GREENVILLE – Greenville senior Justin Brown became one of the first players to commit to the Indiana Wesleyan University football team on Wednesday.
Brown, the son of Mart and Kathy Brown, made his commitment to Indiana Wesleyan official on Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats will begin play for the first time in school history in the fall of 2018.
“That’s awesome because you get to start history,” Brown said. “You get to set the tone for that program. That’s something I was really excited about, too.”
Since announcing the formation of its football program in April 2016, Indiana Wesleyan has started to assemble a coaching staff, begun construction of a football stadium and announced its intention to play in the Mid-States Football Association. The MSFA is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and has produced seven NAIA national championship teams since its formation in 1993.
“He’s going to be one of the guys that help start their program and get them off and running,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said of Brown joining Indiana Wesleyan. “Really proud of him and all the hard work and effort and dedication that he’s put in here and I know that he’ll be successful at the next level both athletically and academically.”
Brown plans to become a physician’s assistant as his future career. He’ll probably study exercise science as an undergraduate, he said, although there are many routes he could take to achieve his career aspirations.
At Indiana Wesleyan, Brown found a program that provides a great fit athletically, academically and spiritually.
“Some of the other programs we went to we didn’t really feel the faith base that we did at Indiana Wesleyan so I just felt at home,” he said. “The coaches were same faith and real Christ-centered. The whole community there, they’re all excited and real faith based. I just love that about the program and everything there. So I can continue to grow not only as a football player but also spiritually and physically as well.
“I love the coaches, and they’re starting the football program, calling it the First 50. Some of the other places I went I felt comfortable with, but this is where I actually felt at home, and I just really liked it there. Everybody is real excited, nice, and you can tell that they want to win, which is important to me.”
Following his talks with Indiana Wesleyan and head coach Jordan Langs, a former defensive coordinator at Wheaton College, Brown said he could play several positions for the Wildcats including outside linebacker, inside linebacker or a linebacker-safety hybrid.
“Kind of wherever they want to put me is where I’ll go,” Brown said, “excited about the opportunity to play different positions.”
As a senior at Greenville, Brown recorded 81 tackles, three sacks and recovered one fumble on his way to earning second team all-Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division honors for a second consecutive year. He also ran the ball 19 times for 78 yards and caught 13 passes for 165 yards as a senior.
“He can do a lot of different things for them,” Shaffer said of Brown’s college prospects. “He’s continuing to grow physically right now. He looks great. I was talking with him today; he’s put on a little bit of weight but still being able to run and train.
“Obviously he’s a tremendous athlete. He runs well. He carries good size with his speed. He’s a student of the game. He’s very analytical of the game. He puts himself in position mentally as much as physically, which if you can do both at the same time obviously that makes you a great football player.”
Indiana Wesleyan will spend 2017 preparing for its inaugural season in 2018.
“We get that whole first year just to lift and get bigger and stronger and faster and get ready for that first season in 2018,” Brown said.
As the Wildcats get their program started, having a leader like Brown will be very beneficial.
“He’s a leader by example; he is a leader vocally,” Shaffer said. “To have a kid like Justin come into your program, especially when you’re starting out fresh, it’s definitely going to be a plus for those guys. I look forward to him doing things over there very similar to the way he did here – he studies hard, he works out hard, socially he’s out committing his time to the community and volunteer efforts and things like that so he’s definitely a leader here, and I expect that he’ll be a leader over there as well.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.