A couple days a week, Charlotte 49ers football player Chris Brown gets homesick for his mom’s cooking. Especially if she’s whipping up a batch of Alfredo, Brown’s favorite. “I’m going after that,” he says.
Going home entails a five-minute walk for Brown, whose mother and stepfather, Edna and Frank Reeder, live across N.C. 49 in the College Downs neighborhood.
Brown, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, is one of two University City residents who look to make a splash on the 49ers football team this year after having to sit out last season.
Brown missed the 2014 campaign because of a pre-season knee surgery. And Anthony Covington, a redshirt sophomore cornerback, wasn’t eligible to play last year because he had transferred to Charlotte after spending a year at Appalachian State.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The two newcomers played at rival high schools before becoming college teammates. Covington is a 2013 graduate of Mallard Creek and Brown graduated from Vance in 2014.
Both enter the season no worse than second-teamers on Charlotte’s depth chart.
It’s unlikely that Brown would crack the starting lineup – all five of Charlotte’s offensive linemen are returning starters. Four of them are redshirt juniors, meaning Brown’s chances of being a first-teamer next year might remain thin.
Covington, on the other hand, might be on the verge of starting.
Secondary coach James Adams said Covington was listed as a starter coming out of the spring practice. Adams added that Covington is one of several cornerbacks who could be named a starter prior to Charlotte’s opener at Georgia State on Sept. 4.
Brown and Covington spent last season filling roles that were new to them. They were standouts on their high school teams but were assigned positions in which they were supporting their teammates.
Once Brown recovered from his knee surgery, he joined Covington in performing scout team duties – playing in practice against the players who would see game time on Saturdays.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Covington. “You learn how to play a complete team role. It’s not so much about what you can do, but about you can help someone else without getting the public recognition.
“If you work hard and make them better in practice, they get the glorification of it on Saturdays. But it’s the behind-the-scene work that’s most rewarding in that type of situation.”
Adams described Covington as a “tough, physical player.” The redshirt sophomore is playing a “boundary” corner, which means he is expected to cover a receiver in single coverage and be versatile enough to cover the run.
Covington said he took the year to analyze film with Adams and the veteran defensive backs.
Brown took advantage of the year off to add some weight. He came out of Vance, where he played three years of varsity and was named the Cougars’ lineman of the year in 2013, weighing 260 pounds. Brown is now listed at 294 pounds.
“I played scout team O-line,” Brown said. “It was good experience, going against the first team D (defense). I needed reps because I missed camp. It was giving the D-line a good look, preparing for the games.”
Brown said he’s splitting time between guard and tackle and being tutored by guard Casey Perry, who started all 11 games last year, and tackle Jamal Covington, one of three players to start all 22 games in program history.
There are other 49ers who graduated from University City high schools. Freshman defensive back Nafees Lyon, freshman defensive lineman Randy Suydam, and sophomore offensive lineman Tevin Lawshe all played at Mallard Creek.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
▪ Women’s soccer, vs. Georgia Southern, Transamerica Field, 2 p.m.
▪ Men’s and women’s cross country, at Virginia Duals, TBA
▪ Women’s soccer, at Winthrop, 7 p.m.
▪ Football, at Georgia State, 3:30 p.m.
▪ Women’s soccer, vs. Gardner-Webb, Transamerica Field, 7 p.m.
▪ Men’s soccer, at Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.
▪ Volleyball, at IUPUI/Hampton Inn Invitational, vs. IUPUI, 7 p.m.
▪ Volleyball, at IUPUI/Hampton Inn Invitational, vs. West Virginia, 10 a.m.
▪ Volleyball, at IUPUI/Hampton Inn Invitational, vs. Eastern Michigan, 4 p.m.