Wi-Hi’s Brown takes football talents to Lenoir-Rhyne on a full ride

Face

Across the country last Wednesday, National Signing Day for high school athletes deciding where they would play Division I college football at dominated the programming of channels like ESPN and Fox Sports.

On Delmarva, high schools held their own signing day ceremonies for students going on to play college athletics at the next level, whether it’d be Division I, II or III athletics. At Wicomico high school, one student signed his letter of intent to go play football in North Carolina.

Senior running back Nelson Brown in front of teammates, classmates, teachers, family, fans and media accepted a full scholarship to Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University last Wednesday to play college football for the Bears for years to come. For Brown, it was a day he had waited for since he was a kid.

“I couldn’t wait until this day came,” Brown said. “It’s been a really good and fun day with people saying congrats to me and stuff.”

Brown had interest from some Division I schools like the University of Maine and the United States Military Academy at West Point, but neither offered and neither expressed the amount of interest that Lenoir-Rhyne did. The Bears coaching staff loved Brown and brought him down for an official visit to Hickory, North Carolina in January.

“It was a really great visit,” Brown said. “They treated me like family when I got down there. I sat in a room with a bunch of the football players and talked about the school, then walked around the campus and talked to people. It was a nice and pretty campus.”

The weather in North Carolina was better than the northern Division I schools too, and the coaches and players made him feel at home. Those factors, combined with the Bears doing well last year – finishing with an 11-1 record – and that he would be able to compete for a starting spot right away, factored into his decision.

“Nelson is a man of few words but he told me that he is really happy with where he is going and his mom is excited too. I’m so happy for him,” Wi-Hi head football coach Pat McGlinchey said. “Everyone is excited, everyone loves the coaches, everyone loves the team and everyone loves the school.”

McGlinchey coached Brown in all four years of his high school career. Brown was a freshmen when McGlinchey was the junior varsity coach and knew that he’d be pulled up to the varsity team as a sophomore, but, after a coaching change, McGlinchey went with him and became the head varsity coach in the same season.

“I knew that he was going to be on varsity as a sophomore whether I was there or not,” McGlicnhey said. “If we didn’t have the running backs that we had he would have been on varsity as a freshman.”

As a sophomore and freshman though, the backfield on the varsity roster was a crowded one with Dontea Ayers – who now plays at Division I Towson University – and Kapre Davis in front of him.

“I looked up to them. They always motivated me,” Brown said of the older backs in front of him during his early seasons. “I felt like I could play varsity, but with them in front of me I had to work my way up.”

Brown finally took over as the full-time starter as a junior and remained there throughout his senior season. For his career, he rushed for 3,140 yards and 34 touchdowns while also earning second-team All-State and First-Team All-Bayside honors in addition to earning a spot in the Maryland Crab Bowl.

Brown is also a key contributor to the Indians’ basketball team as well and has been for the past three seasons. As a sophomore, he was a starter on Butch Waller’s team that made it to the 2A state final and now, as a senior, he is one of the team’s leading scorers and rebounders.

He has played both sports since he was a kid and was playing in recreation leagues at the Salvation Army and could probably play basketball at the Division II or III level if he wanted to, but football was always his first love.

“Football always drew my attention more,” Brown said. “When I got older I played basketball just to stay in shape.”

Still, even after signing his commitment to the Indians’ basketball team hasn’t wavered. The Indians are atop of the Bayside-South standings right now and with the regular season winding down are in position to compete for home court throughout the 2A East playoffs and for a spot in the Bayside Championship game.

So right after posing for pictures and talking to people in the library, Brown headed over to the gym to change in to shorts and sneakers for practice with the basketball team.

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