True freshman steps in for Tigers
Published on -9/10/2012, 10:24 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Fort Hays State University true freshman running back Addie Brown came from Mullen High School, a strong program in Denver. He competed against Division I recruits throughout his entire career and collected first team all-state honors as a defensive back for a 9-3 team last fall. In the backfield, Brown rushed 78 times for 572 yards and 11 scores.
Brown came into training camp and became the Tigers' No. 3 running back behind senior Andre Smith and junior Ed Smith, two players who had rushed for at least 900 yards in their Tiger careers.
Brown, linebacker Justin McPhail and defensive back Raheeme Dumas were three Tiger true freshmen to make the two-deep lineup on offense and defense entering the season. Brown, known for his enthusiasm and confidence, believed he could play.
"Nothing less than a championship and getting on the field," Brown said.
Two weeks into the season, Brown is now the Tigers' best back and starter. Andre Smith, a returning all-MIAA honorable mention selection, suffered a knee sprain and is out for several weeks. Ed Smith reinjured his shoulder, a nagging problem, after one carry Saturday.
Brown finished with 21 carries for 114 yards, both game-highs, in the Tigers' 45-20 home loss to Washburn University on Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium. The rest of the team combined for 14 carries for one yard.
"I am very proud of that kid," Tiger second-year coach Chris Brown said. "He has come into camp, he has worked hard and he runs the ball very well, and that is our future tailback right there. He has done a good job with what he is doing.
"He has got thrown into the fire pretty quick as a true freshman, but he is starting to see things really well, and he is running hard," the coach added. "If we keep him going in the right direction and keep his head on straight, he is going to be a very good player for us."
Coach Brown was uncertain how long Ed Smith, who collected 748 yards last season, would be out.
"I think Ed is going to be OK," Brown said. "His shoulder, he had a little problem with it last year, and he tweaked it a little again today. I think, overall, his shoulder should come back fine, and be ready to go."
Addie Brown, at 5-foot-8, 180-pounds, resembled Ed Smith's speed and breakaway ability.
"I just try to go out there and play," Brown said. "You say that I am running fast, and I am just out there running to me. I am not trying to do anything extra, and without the O-line, I can't run nowhere."
Dumas with big play
Dumas, from Florida, also stepped up. He didn't play in the season-opening road loss to Emporia State University, but after Fort Hays allowed several big passes, Dumas saw plenty of playing time late. With 6:32 remaining, Dumas returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown. It marked the first time FHSU has scored a defensive or special teams touchdown since 2009. Of the MIAA teams that have been in the league since 2009, FHSU is the only one with no defensive or special teams scores.
"It was a good call from the coaches," Dumas said. "They have been on us all day, everyday at practice to stay back and I stayed back, and he threw the ball right to me and just seeing the end zone."
Dumas sometimes spelled senior defensive back Keke Paul, a captain and returning all-MIAA honorable mention selection who led the MIAA in pass breakups last year. Paul struggled against Washburn, allowing several deep passes. With 7:38 left in the first quarter, Paul was 1-on-1 with Ichabod wideout Mark Fancher. Fancher hauled in the pass and scored on a 52-yard play.
"He is there, we have just got to make the play," Coach Brown said. "On another play, he bit up on it, he has just got to sit back and play deep thirds and not let anything behind him. He came up and he chased the out route and they are going to throw it deep on you. You can't do those things. You have got to stay back and keep everything in front."
Seeing a difference
Addie Brown noticed a difference between Fort Hays, now 0-2, 0-2 MIAA and Washburn, ranked No. 15 in NCAA Division II at 2-0, 2-0 MIAA.
"When I look on the sidelines, they are very bonded," Brown said. "They are a team and they are a family, on the field, as well as everything. Everything they do, they do together, and if we can implement that a little bit in this team, which we are in the next coming weeks, we are going to be right there with them. That's about it, I see."
This week, FHSU travels to Northwest Missouri State University, ranked No. 3 in the country. The Bearcats should drop in the polls after a 31-21 loss to University of Central Missouri on Saturday.
Saturday's 45-20 score was the exact same score of last season's game in Topeka between FHSU and Washburn. ... The Tigers again had strong kick returns, averaging 24.4 yards on eight kick returns, though redshirt freshman Shaquille Cooper did fumble a kickoff that Washburn recovered. .... Fort Hays didn't record a sack Saturday, but senior Austin Hubert delivered a career-high 14 tackles and recorded 1.5 tackles for loss.