Running back Brewton ready to do his share for UConn football

5-7 minutes 8/11/2023
STORRS — Anyone needing a reminder of what Brian Brewton is capable of doing for the UConn football team can go back and watch the first 15 seconds of the Huskies' game at perennial power Clemson on Nov. 13, 2021.
Brewton took the opening kickoff and raced 99 yards untouched — except for a celebratory high five from a teammate at the 20-yard-line — for a touchdown. It was the lone highlight of a 44-7 loss to the Tigers at Death Valley and maybe the No. 1 highlight of a 1-11 season.
The Miami native came back a year ago and was expected to be a key player in UConn's running attack. But in the third game of the season against Syracuse on Sept. 10, he fractured his elbow and did not return until the Huskies' appearance in the Myrtle Beach Bowl against Marshall on Dec. 19.
Healthy again, Brewton enters his junior season ready to play to his potential.
"I'm playing with a chip on my shoulder coming into the season," Brewton said this week. "I feel like I have to prove myself again. I just come in every day like I'm at the bottom of the depth chart and work really hard. I pay attention in meetings and do everything right."
UConn opens the season on Aug. 31 when it entertains North Carolina State at Rentschler Field.
Brewton (5-foot-6, 175 pounds) also had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Army as a freshman and ranked among the nation's leaders in return yards. He had his best game as a running back last season against Central Connecticut State with 10 carries for 62 yards and three receptions for 17 yards the week before he was injured in the Syracuse game and had surgery.
"I was still going to meetings all the time," Brewton said. "I was at practice. I was getting those mental reps all the time. We picked up this season right where we left off and (first-year running backs coach Antonio Wilcox) is teaching us things we didn't know."
With his five carries against Marshall, Brewton finished his year with 20 carries for 85 yards along with five catches for 25 yards.
As a junior he'll be part of the Huskies' running back by committee plan that includes Devontae Houston, Victor Rosa, and Jalen Mitchell.
"I think Brew has really good quickness," UConn second-year coach Jim Mora said. "I think Devontae is one of the fastest players on our football team, but Brew can run. He is hard to tackle in space because he is shifty, and he will pass protect as well.
"With both of those guys — given that they are not the biggest guys in stature — it is critical to have that depth. Because you can't ask the 170, 175-pounders just to run up in there all day long. It is going to take a toll on them. Having Jalen and Victor along with Devontae and Brew really helps us."
Brewton models his game after former Minnesota Vikings running back and current free agent Dalvin Cook, who rushed for over 1,000 yards for four consecutive seasons with the Vikings.
But Brewton plays to his strengths.
"My shiftiness, my vision and I run the ball hard," Brewton said. "I might be small, but I'm going to pound the ball in there."
In high school, he helped at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Miami to a state championship in 2019 and served as a team captain.
One of his teammates was Huskies' quarterback Zion Turner, who is in competition to retain the starting job he had for 12 games a season ago.
"He was my quarterback my senior year," Brewton said. "I was talking to him before he came up. I knew we had the chemistry so I could talk to him. That was kind of nice.
"It was nice to see Zion out there last year. I knew he could hold his own. He got us six wins. Hopefully he gets us more than six this season."
A strong running game is part of any success an offense has and Brewton is determined to do his share when he gets his opportunities.
"Every time you go in, you have to make the most out of your reps," Brewton said. "Don't take a play off. Give it your all."
Mitchell on Butkus list
UConn senior Jackson Mitchell was named Thursday to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which honors the nation's top linebacker.
Mitchell was a semifinalist for the award last year.
Named earlier to the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, Mitchell led the Huskies with 140 tackles (50 solo), 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in 13 starts. He was seventh among NCAA leaders in tackles at 10.8 per game. He finished with two quarterback hurries, three pass break-ups including an interception, and also two forced fumbles. His five fumble recoveries led the nation.
The Ridgefield native is among 51 collegiate linebackers on the Butkus watch list. The 51 is a nod to the jersey number worn by the award's namesake, Dick Butkus, who entered the NFL Hall of Fame after a storied career with the Chicago Bears. The award semifinalists are expected to be named Oct. 30 with finalists to follow Nov. 20. The winner will be named on or before Dec. 6.

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