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Catching Up: Brown Making Quick Moves at Wake

Devon Brown spent much of his high school career finding success late. After struggling for attention, he transferred from O’Connell to Stone Bridge prior to his senior season. With the Bulldogs, Brown rushed for 1,744 yards and 29 touchdowns, was named second-team All-Met and just two weeks before signing day in 2007 finally secured a scholarship offer from Wake Forest.

Brown, though, is getting started early with the Demon Deacons. As a sophomore, Brown is getting significant time as a hybrid wide receiver-running back. Maryland fans got to see Brown last weekend, when his four-yard touchdown run in the first quarter put Wake Forest up for good en route to its 42-32 victory over the Terps. Brown, who plays wide receiver, also caught a pair of balls for 59 yards. He is third on the Deacons with 22 receptions for 334 yards, and with skilled senior Riley Skinner at quarterback, expect Brown to get plenty more looks the second half of the season.

There is a new professional football league debuting this fall, though it’s easy to miss the United Football League. It only has four teams – New York, San Francisco, Orlando and Las Vegas – and the games are scheduled on Thursdays and Fridays during October and November.

Players are those looking for a break into the NFL or veterans looking for a last gasp of pro action. There are, however, a couple of players with Washington-area roots who have stuck with teams.

Chas Gessner graduated from Good Counsel in 1999 before making his mark at Brown, where he played both football and lacrosse (He was an All-Met attack at Good Counsel in 1999). He didn’t do too badly in football, either; Gessner tied Jerry Rice’s NCAA single-game record for receptions when he caught 24 for Brown in a 38-28 loss to Rhode Island on Oct. 5, 2002.

He bounced around the fringes of NFL rosters from New England to the New York Jets to Tampa Bay to Seattle, as well as the Arena Football League before hooking on with the UFL’s Florida Tuskers this fall. Gessner caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown in Florida’s 35-13 victory last week over New York.

Another local player in the league is Derrick Gray (Kennedy, Class of 2004), who not only flew under the radar during his high school career (the Cavaliers won nine games his last three seasons), but he was also a virtual unknown to scouts prior to his senior season a Texas Southern. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Gray is a defensive lineman for the California Redwoods but didn’t play in their debut.

Seeing Gessner’s name made me think about the many kids from the Washington area who end up playing at Ivy League teams every year. In fact, at Gessner’s alma mater, Brown, there are three Washingtonians, highlighted by senior defensive tackle David Howard (Springbrook, 2005), who ranked among the top five in the Ivy League last season in both sacks and tackles for loss. Lining up next him at the other tackle is senior Michael Lemmons (St. Albans).

On the offensive line, meantime, both tackles are from the Washington area – senior Patrick Conroy (Loudoun Valley) on the left side, while the right side is anchored by senior Paul Jasinowski (St. Albans). Four other local players dot the Bears’ roster, including senior tight end Andrew Fertig (Sidwell Friends), junior linebacker Chimso Okoji (Kennedy), sophomore wide receiver Kenny Newcomer (Gonzaga) and freshman running back Jeff Izon (Landon).

As always, if you have any suggestions or inquiries into players with whom you’d like to catch up, shoot me an email at goldenbacha@washpost.com.

By Alan Goldenbach  |  October 13, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Catching Up , Gonzaga , Good Counsel , Kennedy , Loudoun Valley High School , Sidwell Friends , Springbrook , St. Albans , Stone Bridge High School  
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