Thursday morning a group of 13 former ECU football players took the field for its annual pro day and an opportunity to show something to NFL scouts. One of those players was the latest star wide receiver to come from a school sometimes nicknamed “wide receiver U”
Trevon Brown totaled 189 catches, 2952 yards gained and 24 touchdowns in 41 games played over four years. Brown had back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons in his junior and senior Years. With all the attention on him, Brown got better every year, peaking with 74 catches, 1123 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018.
Brown continues a tradition of talented wide receivers to come from ECU in hopes of the NFL. Dwayne Harris played for ECU before being drafted in 2011. Harris has so far carved out an eight-year playing career in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders, who he recently resigned with. Justin Hardy was drafted in 2015 and has played four years for the Atlanta Falcons and then most recently there’s Zay Jones, Brown’s former teammate, who has completed two seasons with the Buffalo Bills after graduating as the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver.
“It’s been awesome… Having the opportunity to be in this pool with some of the greats,” Brown said.
Brown was happy to be surrounded out there with many of his former teammates. Brown was joined by former ECU players Nate Harvey, Garrett McGhin, Cannon Gibbs, so on and so forth.
He was also joined by ECU QB Holton Ahlers, who was the designated quarterback throwing to receivers. Ahlers played with Brown last season after taking over as starting quarterback part-way through the season. He and Brown had developed a good connection down the stretch of the season, contributing to Brown’s big season. Brown had 13 catches in the game against Houston when Ahlers took over late, and then 10 catches in each of Ahlers’ first two starts following that.
Brown had to come back from an injury that cost him an entire season in 2016, so perhaps that adds to his appreciation. Rather than worry too much about the details, it was being able to be out on Dowdy-Ficklen’s field one more time with those he became close while playing together at ECU allowed Brown to marvel at the situation.
“Just being out here on this field means everything. Not seeing them (former teammates) for two months and just seeing how they worked and came out here and pushed each other and it was just the best being out here,” Brown said.
“(The scouts are) gonna say what they wanna say. It’s just more of us coming here together and doing our job. Doing everything, every drill as hard as we can and giving them a piece of what we know.”
Brown isn’t against the idea of playing in a league other than the NFL if that’s the way things shake out for him.
Many people don’t usually expect ECU players to go on and be drafted in the NFL and make it on a roster consistently. Brown’s former head coach at ECU, Scottie Montgomery, definitely believes in Brown’s potential as an NFL wide receiver. Montgomery played three seasons in the NFL as a wide
“He is a National Football League Player,” Montgomery said last October, according to philly.com. “He frames the ball as well as anybody I have been around. He is a playmaker, really physical. He is 215 pounds and a 6-2, big man.”
Brown has seen several ECU alumni go on to play in some of those other leagues, not just the former WR teammates that are playing in the NFL. To Brown, the option to keep playing football is what matters for him.
“It’s always an opportunity to go look at other stuff if my dreams don’t plan out to be. It’s not a downfall, I know a lot of guys that’s in those leagues who are pretty good at football. Just great to continue my legacy here at ECU and just going on and playing football somewhere.”
On top of trying to impress NFL scouts, players at ECU’s pro day had to deal with some slickness on the grass at Dowdy-Ficklen, especially with players being used to training on turf. The ECU pro day in years past was usually held on the turf practice field but this time took place inside the stadium.
Brown has always been able to perform in adverse conditions, so of course he downplayed the effect that had on the players working out on the field
“It’s football, it’s gonna be like that. That’s what we have to control. When it’s getting wet like that we just gotta take our time, make sure our feet are underneath is and do everything technique-wise, do everything right and we have to adjust,” Brown said.
The thing that stood out most from his pro day was the gear. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon would often wear a headband that carried a message on it he wanted to send, either subtly or not. Similarly, Brown donned a headband that read ‘Jascity’. He said he wore it in honor of his late cousin’s twin children. Brown said they grew up being DJ’s and altogether it was also meant to honor his hometown community of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Wilmington means a lot to Brown. He credits his mother, Twanna, along with the Wilmington Boys & Girls Club for getting him through some of the tougher moments in his life. With Wilmington being so special to him, his senior season was especially tough for him to go through while Hurricane Florence put his hometown through a lot of damage.
So it’s easy to see why he decided to dedicate himself to two things so important to him, family and Wilmington.
“She just means everything to me and I’ll wear it on my head and represent her.”
Brown’s mother told philly.com that he originally wanted to leave for the NFL the year prior, but that she insisted he stay in school and be the first in his family with a college degree. Brown did exactly that by getting a degree in entrepreneurship.
Another example of family meaning so much to him is when Hurricane Florence slammed Eastern North Carolina, Wilmington included. ECU went and stayed in Florida while the storm passed and then played against USF the next week. Despite worrying for his family back home and wanting to help, Brown still produced and caught six passes for 99 yards.
“It was tough, but I had to come to the conclusion that, between the lines, I had to think about football and my future for my family, and I believe that if I did the right thing and played well on the field, I was setting up to give them a better life,” Brown said last October, per philly.com
“It would mean everything for me to be in the NFL just to help out my family.”