Back from bad break, Blue Hens’ CB Brown eyes big year

Malcolm Brown’s return should make an already-deep Delaware secondary even deeper. Not only do the Hens return all four starters but their top eight defensive backs all have at least 11 games of playing experience. (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

Malcolm Brown’s return should make an already-deep Delaware secondary even deeper. Not only do the Hens return all four starters but their top eight defensive backs all have at least 11 games of playing experience. (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Malcolm Brown was only 17 when he first took the field for the Delaware football team.

The true freshman cornerback played like a kid sometimes, too, making his share of mistakes two seasons ago.

Then again, the Blue Hens were asking a lot from Brown, who played in 11 of 12 games that fall.

“I was kind of just out there playing,” said Brown. “I was just, ‘I’m here now, I’ve got to play. I’ve got to do whatever,’”

But as much he might look at film from his freshman year and think “I can’t believe I was doing that,” that first season was a pretty good crash course in college football.

Now, after sitting out the 2015 season with a broken jaw, it will be a more-prepared Brown that takes the field when Delaware opens the season on Sept. 1 by hosting Delaware State.

Certainly, being sidelined last season wasn’t part of the plan. He broke his jaw when he was hit by a helmet in a locker room incident during preseason.

Brown, though, tried to make the best of the situation.

“It was tough for me,” said the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder. “I just tried to help the team as much as I could without being on the field. I came to every practice, I was at every game.

“It was hard just watching, being on the sidelines. It helped me learn — I had to take something positive from it. I just tried to study the game more because I couldn’t physically be in it. … I think I’m a lot smarter. I think I know a lot more about the game now.”

Brown’s return should make an already-deep Delaware secondary even deeper. Not only do the Hens return all four starters but their top eight defensive backs all have at least 11 games of playing experience.

At cornerback, Brown rejoins a group that includes junior Justin Watson and sophomores Nasir Adderley and Tenny Adewusi.

“I think he’ll bring an awful lot to the table,” coach Dave Brock said about Brown. “He’s walking into a hornets’ nest. We have Justin Watson, who’s probably as fierce a competitor as we have on our football team; you have Naz Adderley, who may be as talented physically a player as we have on the team and Tenny has done a great job.

“The more good players you can collect, the more things you can do defensively. That’s exciting — the versatility it brings. … I’m excited to see him (Brown) go out and compete like he did in the spring.”

As a freshman, Brown recorded 20 tackles and returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. As competitive as Delaware’s secondary is, he knows he’ll have to earn his time on the field.

Brown goes into the season listed as a possible starter at right cornerback, along with Adderley. He may also see time as a punt returner.

“Our main goal back there in the secondary is just to make each other better,” said Brown. “We’re going to compete with each other every day, we’re going to compete with the offense every day. In the end, it’s going to end up helping everybody, making us better as a team.

“This defense is going to be one of the best in the country.”

Brown hasn’t played in a real football game since November, 2014. Needless to say, he’s pretty anxious to get back on the field.

He’d like the chance to prove he’s a better player than he was then.

“It’s exciting to finally be putting things together and start counting down the days to the first game,” said Brown. “I’ve been waiting a while. It’s nice to get back out here.”

Extra points

Delaware earned 25 total votes and was among several teams also receiving votes in the STATS Preseason FCS Poll. The Colonial Athletic Association had six teams in the Top 25, the most from any conference. … Five-time defending national champion North Dakota State topped the rankings while Sam Houston State and former Blue Hen coach K.C. Keeler were second. … Delaware’s first full scrimmage is slated for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. … The inaugural Kids Day will be held Sunday at noon at Delaware Stadium followed by Media/Photo Day at 4:45 p.m. Registration for the free Kids Day skill session is available at www.bluehens.com.

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