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Maryland suspends RB Wes Brown indefinitely

Maryland running back Wes Brown rushes the ball in the first half against Richmond, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in College Park.
Maryland running back Wes Brown rushes the ball in the first half against Richmond, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in College Park. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Maryland running back Wes Brown has been suspended indefinitely for violating the university's student-athlete code of conduct, the athletic department announced Monday evening.

Brown, a junior, rushed for 317 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games this season. In Maryland's 24-7 loss to No. 13 Michigan State on Saturday, Brown made his first start of the season and carried 12 times for 52 yards.

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Brown was previously suspended from Maryland following a confrontation with police in July 2013 and missed the 2013 season.

Brown's indefinite suspension comes when he appeared to be hitting his stride this season. He received more carries than running back Brandon Ross in Maryland's losses to Iowa and Wisconsin before he earned the start against Michigan State.

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"Wes has really picked it up with his execution, his effort, his practice habits," interim coach Mike Locksley said after the Terps' loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 7.

Brown had appeared in all 10 games this season. He rushed 13 times for 74 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Richmond. But in five games from Sept. 19 to Oct. 24, Brown received only 19 carries and rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown.

But in the past three games, Brown got the majority of the work, with Ross struggling with fumbles and pass protection. Brown carried 30 times for 119 yards and a score. The junior credited a new perspective for his improvement.

"I just started seeing things differently and pushing myself in a different way," Brown said last Wednesday.

Locksley lauded Brown's improved pass protection, and Brown said his blocking was one of the last things he needed to improve before he could consider himself a complete running back.

Brown said he was "angry and mad" at how the season had gone for the Terps, who lost their seventh straight game and fell to 2-8 with two games left this season after their loss to Michigan State, and he had a renewed focus to take a more significant role in the offense to help alleviate some of the team's offensive woes.

"If I have to be the one in practice pushing extra hard to be the example, I'll do it," Brown said. "That's just pretty much how I looked at it."

Brown's suspension significantly thins Maryland's depth at running back. Ross is listed as the starter for this weekend's game against Indiana, and freshman Ty Johnson is listed as his backup. In the loss to Michigan State, Johnson suffered a hyperextended left knee and was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday, according to Locksley.

Of the other players listed at running back on Maryland's roster — junior Kenneth Goins Jr., junior Joe Riddle, junior Andrew Stefanelli, redshirt sophomore Marcus Smith, and junior Tehuti Miles — only Goins, who has started three games at fullback this season, has a carry.

Brown was a four-star recruit out of Good Counsel in the Class of 2012, and Rivals ranked him as the No. 6 player in Maryland in the class and the No. 14 running back nationally. Brown was one of the top three players in a recruiting class that also included high-school teammates and five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who is having a breakout rookie season for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

Brown showed the potential to be a workhorse running back in his freshman season. He played in only eight games because of ankle and shoulder injuries, but he finished second on the team in rushing with 382 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. In Maryland's homecoming game against N.C. State, Brown rushed 25 times for a career-high 121 yards and a touchdown.

When Brown returned for the 2014 season, he was a short-yardage specialist and rushed for 356 yards and six touchdowns on 103 carries. Brown scored 11 touchdowns in his career, and eight of those scores were 1-yard runs.

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After his performance against Michigan State, Brown appeared ready to continue his hold on the starting running back job. Instead, Ross slides back into that spot.

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