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Arizona football: Shun Brown will be a backup slot receiver for Wildcats

A true freshman that will get some run at receiver this year

Student Sports

As fall camp wound down and school got started this week, the true freshmen that will play for the Arizona Wildcats this year started to clear up a little bit.

One of those guys is likely Shun Brown, who can fill in at a slot position when Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips need a break.

"He's going to play," wide receivers coach Tony Dews said of the freshman. "He's earned the right to play. He's busted his butt through camp and since we've ended camp, so he's earned the right to play. Now, how much? That's still to be determined, but he's done enough to prove to us that he can help us."

"Right now he's on the travel squad," Rich Rodriguez added. "He's in the backup role, and he's still learning but it doesn't look like he'll be redshirting."

So what is it exactly that he's done over the past few weeks to prove to the coaches that they can trust him in a game?

"Understanding the game of football," Dews continued. "Obviously he's been coached very well through high school, and really his whole life because his dad's a coach. So he understands the game of football and he's been able to pick things up quickly. He hasn't had a lotta busts assignment-wise. And he's a good athlete, so he's been able to catch on fast."

"Well, he's an athletic kid and he's picked up our schemes pretty well," added coach Rod. "He's done a good job assignment-wise, and I think (his dad coaching) has helped."

Learning these schemes, Brown goes up against one guy in practice on a regular basis, and that's fellow freshman Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.

"It's been a great little competition," Brown said through a smile. "I know when I get up for one-on-ones, he always want to go against me, and I'm like 'come on man, let someone else go against me', and he's like 'no, I want to go against you'."

"It's one of those things that's a friendly rivalry, and I tell him all the time, but once we step on the practice field, we're not friends anymore, so we keep a little tally of how many times I caught a ball on him and things like that."

"We go at it," added Flannigan-Fowles. "We always go at it. Me and Shun go at it. We keep each other right, because we know we can be key contributors and that we're both pretty good at our positions, so we always go against each other head to head."

"It's helped me out a lot, because Shun is good," Demetrius continued. "That boy is good, so it's good being able to go against him and compete and seeing how much my coverage has improved."

"He's shifty," Flannigan-Fowles said about Shun's greatest strength. "If you guess one way, he's going to be the other way and you're gonna be like 'Oh my goodness'. That man is good. That man is shifty."

Another close friend of Shun Brown is former high school teammate Orlando Bradford, who's also in the mix to be a true freshman that contributes, whether it be at running back or on special teams.

"It's more of a family atmosphere," Brown said about having Bradford around. "It was a family atmosphere when I came here, and being with Orlando here is just a bonus. We're roommates, and we're just boys, best friends."

"It helped me a lot," Bradford said of having Brown in Tucson with him. "Me and Shun do everything together, so I really needed to get him out here. I mess with him every day, and we keep each other going so we don't miss home and all the good things about home, so we keep each other motivated."

There was a moment in the final week of camp where senior safety Jamar Allah was right up in Shun's ear for a good long walk. Not screaming or yelling or anything, just a nice long talk that was very one-sided.

"It's one of those things where the older guys like to test the young guys out and see what they're going to do," Brown said of that moment. "So it's one of those things when they talk to you, you just show respect and say 'I got you' and things like that."

"I knew it's deep in camp, and guys are starting to hurt, but you gotta embrace the grind," Allah explained. "And I'm just making sure he's getting better every single day, and not feeling sorry for yourself. But for sure he can contribute right away. Since the summer, he's just been going up and snagging balls, even balls that you wouldn't think somebody would catch, he just goes up and gets it. He's not scared of the ball."

"I really wasn't feeling down on myself, but it's hard being a freshman," Brown added. "I know this camp RichRod said it was easy, but for some of the freshmen, it was hard at first, but once we got used to it it was like 'Okay, wow, I'm getting used to this.' But when you make a mistake, you can't keep on thinking about it. You've gotta go on to the next play."

There's no reason for any of us to be down on him either heading into the season. With the injury to Tyrell Johnson, expect Brown and Johnny Jackson to be taking over in the slot whenever Samajie or Nate get winded. And it's really exciting for the future of this program to see all these potential freshmen playmakers in the mix for some serious run.