Southern, Daniel Brown look to keep winning

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONNorthwestern State quarterback Zach Adkins is sacked by Southern  linebacker Daniel Brown last season in Natchitoches.
Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONNorthwestern State quarterback Zach Adkins is sacked by Southern linebacker Daniel Brown last season in Natchitoches.

Southern linebacker Daniel Brown was part of a winning football team for the first time in his life when the Jaguars claimed the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship last season.

He was a key contributor to that success, and he’s one of the main reasons this year’s Southern team appears capable of having a second consecutive winning season and perhaps even repeating as conference champions.

This winning stuff could become habit-forming. At least that’s what Brown and the Jaguars are hoping as they prepare to open the season Aug. 30 at Louisiana-Lafayette.

“It makes you want to work harder so you can keep achieving the things you never achieved before,” Brown said Thursday of the Jaguars’ 9-4 record last season.

Brown is the top returning tackler on the team. Last season, he started all 13 games and was second to linebacker Anthony Balancier with 86 total tackles. His 14 tackles for losses were more than twice the next-highest total on the team and his 5.5 sacks also led the team.

He had at least one tackle for loss in 10 games. Brown had a season-high 3.5 tackles for loss against Texas Southern, which started a season-ending streak of five consecutive games in which he had a tackle for loss. That coincided with the Jaguars’ season-ending five-game win streak.

Both streaks culminated with Southern’s first conference title in 10 years. The previous best record Brown had experienced came in 2007 when his high school team — J.S. Clark in New Orleans — followed a 5-5 regular season record with a 43-8 loss to Notre Dame of Crowley in the first round of the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs.

The Jaguars finished 4-7 in each of Brown’s first two seasons before turning things around last season.

As a Southern freshman in 2011, Brown played in six games and started three. He made 26 total tackles, including two for loss and one sack. The next season he played in 10 games, all as a backup. He had 28 total tackles, including two for loss and one sack.

Then, in 2013, he had a breakout season, just like the entire team.

Brown’s presence on the right side of the Jaguars efense, where he’ll sometimes move up to the line of scrimmage to rush the passer, and that of end and fellow senior Arthur Miley on the left side, makes it difficult for opponents to try and avoid both of the two biggest playmakers on the Southern defense.

“He’s the vocal leader on the defensive side of the ball,” Miley said. “He can be loud. I lead by example, but he leads by being loud — by being Daniel.”

Jaguars head coach Dawson Odums said it’s especially satisfying to take players such as Brown who haven’t experienced winning previously and prepare them to contribute to being a part of it for the first time.

“They have talent and you get them in the process and the program and you can see the benefits of that,” Odums said. “You love them up.”

Brown and Miley were both selected to the Preseason All-SWAC second team last month. No Jaguars defenders made the first team, but Southern was picked to repeat as SWAC West Division champion.

“He’s got a great motor,” Odums said of Brown. “He’s just a great kid. We’re privileged to have him in our program.”

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