If Northwestern had to name an offensive MVP for its spring camp, which ended with the Wildcats’ spring game Saturday at Ryan Field, coach Pat Fitzgerald’s vote would go to wide receiver Charles Brown.
“It makes me feel good to notice that the hard work is finally paying off,” said Brown, a 5-11, 180-pound senior. “But I really try not to read into what coaches say or the hype, and I focus on getting better. I try to keep my eyes on a straight path and go from there.”
The Robeson High School product caught two passes for 20 yards Saturday, logging significant time with Rashad Lawrence (three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown), Brendan Barber (two for 27 and a touchdown) and Demetrius Fields (two for 24).
Last season, Brown played in 12 games and had 16 catches for 198 yards, splitting reps with Northwestern’s leading receiver, Jeremy Ebert.
“I came in freshman year as a quiet kid, and as the years went on I learned to grow into myself and be more vocal,” Brown said. “I stepped up as being a leader and being the oldest guy in the room and leading the younger receivers and letting them know what it takes to play at wide receiver.
‘‘I think I made the biggest improvement [this spring] in that area, being more vocal.”
There were 17 players who didn’t participate in the spring game because of injuries, and seven who didn’t play because of coaches’ decisions.
Quarterbacks Evan Watkins, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian all played. Watkins went 7-for-11 for 70 yards and a touchdown, Siemian 5-for-14 for 46 yards and two touchdowns and Colter 5-for-10 for 35 yards. Colter also scored on a 27-yard run.
“I was trying to work on raising my completion percentage and making my reads,” Watkins said. “I started off spring a little slow and was a little too tense, and I was thinking a little too much. But as the spring went on, I was able to cut it loose and just play.”
With Dan Persa hoping to be cleared to practice by June and start in the season opener Sept. 3 at Boston College, Fitzgerald and offensive coordinator Mick McCall wouldn’t say which of the three quarterbacks would be Persa’s top backup.
“We still have a long, long time,” McCall said of putting together a depth chart. “They have worked so hard, and all three have improved. A couple of them did some good things, and then you’re going, ‘Oh, what are you looking at?’ I couldn’t tell you that one did any better than the other one.”