COLLEGE PARK -- As early as the first week of preseason practice, Maryland running backs coach Andre Powell made a prediction about sophomore running back Wes Brown.
“I think by the time we get to game week, he’ll be a guy that we’ll find can help us win,” Powell said.
And that’s what happened.
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Junior Brandon Ross is the Terps’ starter, and the team also has junior Albert Reid. But Brown played in short-yardage situations during the Terps’ opener against James Madison and then saw his workload increase in the second half after Maryland built a comfortable lead.
The result? Brown had 81 yards on 13 carries in his first action since 2012. He also picked up 27 yards on two catches.
“Wes looked good today,” wide receiver Deon Long said after Saturday's game.
Like he did during preseason practice, Brown stuck out at times with his physicality and natural running skills. He rushed for 11 yards on his second carry, later broke a 33-yard run and also had a 25-yard catch-and-run during the fourth quarter.
“I thought Wes just went out and executed what he was supposed to,” coach Randy Edsall said. “He ran hard, ran tough [and] caught the ball well. I thought he took advantage of his opportunities.”
The big challenge for Brown is continuing to minimize mental errors while also proving he can be reliable in pass protection.
Brown is probably the most gifted of the Terps’ running backs, a former four-star recruit who rushed for 382 yards as a freshman in 2012. But there was rust to shake off after he was suspended last season.
The frequency of mental errors for Brown has decreased since spring practice and even since the beginning of preseason camp. However, there is still work to do.
Still, Maryland is encouraged by how Brown looked during preseason practice, with how he looked against James Madison and also with how he has apparently grown as a person since being suspended.
“He always amazes me,” senior inside linebacker L.A. Goree said. “I love Wes. Wes has vision. He can see a lot of things opening up on the field. He’s always been that physical guy. I’m sure you’ve seen him truck a hundred people before. He’s always been that physical guy.
“But one thing I almost admire about Wes is how positive he is now [compared to] what he’s been. He’s real positive. He’s mature. He helps everyone around him. He’s positive [and energetic] to the point that it spreads like a wildfire. … He’s a different type of dude than what he is. He’s better, and I think he’s going to keep getting better.”