TROY – At least on paper, Troy has some rebuilding to do in its receiver corps with the departure of three senior starters from last season’s productive unit.
Damion Willis, Deondre Douglas and Sidney Davis were strong leaders and productive players. But this season’s receivers aren’t expecting any decline. In fact, the receivers could – and perhaps should – be one of the team’s strengths.
The Trojans signed touted junior college transfers Reggie Todd, Khalil McClain and Kaylon Geiger for some immediate help. Todd, a 6-5, 200-pounder from Hinds Community College in Mississippi, and McClain, a 6-4, 230-pounder from Hutchinson CC in Kansas, are hard to miss. They are big and fast and physical.
The emergence of redshirt freshman Demontrez Brown will help both of them. Brown, at 6-3, 210, has the physical frame that presents a tough matchup problem for opposing cornerbacks. Head coach Chip Lindsey singled out Brown after both Troy scrimmages.
“He really showed up and made some plays. The last two weeks have been two great weeks of practice for him,” Lindsey said this week. “We need him to continue to grow and play better. He’s still a young player, just a redshirt freshman. We’re excited about his future and he showed us some flashes of that on Saturday.”
Lindsey said the Trojans have worked Brown both as a slot receiver and outside. He has thrived at wide wide receiver.
“In the spring I played him inside. We’ve kind of set on him being outside guy,” the head coach said after the first scrimmage. “If we’re going to play a tempo offense like we’re planning on playing we have to have six to eight guys to rotate in and out.
“Demontrez is starting to come into his own. Really had a couple plays today and really close on a couple more. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve.”
Brown, a standout at Bob Jones in Madison, said some hard work has been paying off. He’s excited to be in the mix with this receiver corps that will include returning players Luke Whittemore, Tray Eafford and Bret Clark.
“I think it’s a pretty good group,” Brown said. “We all have a good time. We always get together and we talk about anything. I feel like there’s no drop-off between us. It’s like everybody’s going to get theirs when it’s their time to shine.”
Brown played in four games early last season – the maximum allowed to keep his redshirt. Former head coach Neal Brown may have been tempted to take it away from him when a rash of injuries at receiver took its toll down the stretch. The coach decided it wouldn’t be fair to the player to burn the redshirt.
“I don’t remember talking about that with him,” Demontrez Brown said. “I was getting better for next year and I knew I’d be able to play next year.”
He said tried to use last season to his advantage.
“It helped my game a lot,” Brown said. “I had a chance to sit back and observe everything. I watched everybody on the team. I was watching D-Will and Deondre, and getting better with my coaches in the weight room, getting bigger and (wide receivers) coach (Cornelius) Williams helping me out on my technique and getting me better.”
He has seen improvement in his overall game.
“What I needed to learn the most last year was just learning the plays and understanding the game – getting in the game and slowing the game down while I was playing,” Brown said.
“That was the biggest thing for me, because when I first got here I was up-tempo all the time, always rushing, rushing. Now, I think it’s slowing down. I don’t know how to explain it, but yeah, it’s slowing down big-time for me.”
He is confident the Troy offense will be fun to watch.
“I promise, when we get to clicking the sky’s the limit,” Brown said.
He added the receivers will do their part, noting the number of playmakers at his position.
“I pick up on all our players and we all get better. We get better off each other’s mistakes,” the receiver said. “We watch each other. Say someone does something really good, we try to put that into our game.”