Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 16, 2013

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS: Former NLC foes Spriggs, Brown meet in college ranks

By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Both were local high school football standouts.

Both are in their sophomore college football seasons.

One has already made an impression at the collegiate level while the other is patiently waiting his turn.

Concord graduate Jason Spriggs started at left tackle for the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday while NorthWood product Coy Brown is the backup middle linebacker and a special teams player for the Bowling Green Falcons.

The Hoosiers were 42-10 winners when the two programs clashed at Memorial Stadium on the IU campus.

Spriggs has started all 15 games of his collegiate career.

“I didn’t come in expecting to start last season, but then the starter went down with an injury,” Spriggs said.

Brown in high school was on the field most of the time playing running back on offense and linebacker on defense. So far this season he has been credited with a solo tackle.

“At times it’s frustrating not playing, but it’s not about me. It’s about what is best for the team,” Brown said. “My time is coming. I think my playing time will be going up in the near future.”

Spriggs made an immediate impact last season, setting an IU freshman record for offensive linemen by starting all 12 games. He led the team with 80 knockdowns and surrendered a mere two sacks in 961 snaps.

Spriggs is listed at 6-7 (297) on the current IU roster. That’s about 20 pounds heavier than his senior season at Concord or his freshman season at IU.

“Indiana has a great weight room and great strength coaches,” he said. “The added weight makes it easier to run block. Last season I had trouble pushing guys off the line of scrimmage. This year the extra weight makes that possible.”

Spriggs doesn’t feel the increased weight has affected his speed.

“One thing the coaches said was you can put the weight on, but you can’t lose any speed,” Spriggs said.

Spriggs is fast for his size. During his junior track and field season he was an alternate on Concord’s 4 x 100-meter relay state that went to the state meet.

“I went to state knowing I was probably not going to run, but as a lineman it was still pretty cool being an alternate on a sprint relay,” he said.

Speed is one of the things Spriggs mentioned when asked about the differences between the game at the high school and the college level.

“The speed at which the game is played is much higher,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that every team we are facing is just as good as we are. Every other team is made up of players that were the best at their high schools.”

Greg Frey is on his second season as the IU run game coordinator and third as offensive line coach. He has coached 12 all-conference honorees including Spriggs.

Spriggs and 6-4 (310) sophomore offensive lineman Dan Feeney were both freshmen All-Americans last season.

Mark Hill is in his third season as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Hoosiers. He has been a part of six bowl teams in his 13-year coaching career, including the 2000 national champion Oklahoma Sooners.

There is a local connection on the IU strength and conditioning staff in Elkhart Central High School and IU graduate Deonte Mack.

He was a four-letterwinner for the Hoosiers in the defensive line from 2007-10. Mack played in 36 career games and totaled 45 tackles, two sacks and three and-a-half tackles for loss.

“Deonte is a good source of experience,” Spriggs said. “He is also on my back pushing me to get better all the time. He is just like I am in wanting to see someone from the local area succeed.”

Spriggs has been following the current Concord season.

“I would tell the guys to keep going and I will see them at state,” he said.

Brown, 5-11 (221), is listed as the No. 2 middle linebacker on the Falcon roster behind 6-0 (236) senior Paul Swan who was credited with three solo tackles and five assists on Saturday. The starting outside linebackers are 5-11 (234) red-shirt junior D J Lynch and 6-1 (229) red-shirt junior Gabe Martin.

Brown was on the field Saturday when Bowling Green scored its touchdown on a punt block.

“Indiana came out in a safe look and we got to the ball using one of our schemes,” he said.

The Falcons entered Saturday’s game 2-0 with wins over Tulsa 34-7 and Kent State 41-22.

“I love it at Bowling Green,” Brown said

“There is a great tradition and it’s a privilege to get to play there.”

What is the biggest difference between the high school game and the college one?

“I think it’s the defensive schemes,” he said. “We have a lot more checks and formations we have to read. You have to be focused in on every play.”

The highlight of his career so far was in his first game last season at The University of Florida.

“We were playing at not only one of the greatest places in college football but against one of the top programs,” Brown said. The place was crazy with 90,000 fans.”

Playing for coach Scott Hoover at NorthWood taught him about leadership something he is trying to take to the college game.

“Coach Hoover’s system teaches you leadership and character,” Brown said. “I have learned I need to be more of a leader in college and that I need to be more outspoken.”

Brown is still following the Panthers this season.

“I try to follow NorthWood on Twitter,” he said. “I want to continue supporting the program, tell the guys to keep up the hard work and that I hope to see you soon.”