Editor’s note: First in a five-part series looking at players who could have a positive impact on the UNI football team this fall.
CEDAR FALLS — Health along Northern Iowa’s entire offensive line will be critical, but health and production from Spencer Brown will go a long way toward the Panthers’ success on the football field this fall.
Slated to start at left tackle this season, Brown’s production will be key for what will be a first-year quarterback and offensive coordinator.
A junior from Lenox, Brown impressed his coaches and teammates by adding 60 pounds to his 6-foot-8 frame during his redshirt season in 2016. He secured a starting spot at right tackle in 2017, but saw his season cut short by injury after only five games. Brown bounced back to play all 13 games at right tackle last fall but was a non-contact participant in spring drills because of an injury he played through in 2018 that he’s since been rehabbing.
UNI second-year offensive line coach Ryan Clanton said in the spring there’s no concern about Brown being healthy for fall camp. Clanton also explained that, while Brown’s 2016 weight gain was impressive, there are still more pounds he can add.
“I’m going to get his weight up even more because his frame can carry so much more,” Clanton said. “I think that he’s going to be one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the FCS next (season) out of any school.”
With 3 1/2-year starter Cal Twait graduated, Brown is making the position switch to left tackle and the fact he doesn’t yet know whose blindside he’s protecting adds another layer of importance to his 2019 production.
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“I wanted to teach (Spencer) both sides of the ball, especially to help him as he gets to the next level in the NFL,” Clanton said. “Being that guy that can play both (left and right tackle) because you don’t carry a lot of guys on the NFL travel roster.”
There’s still size and polish Brown can add to his game, but talk to Clanton and the rest of UNI’s staff and his potential measures up against any of his teammates.
“He’s a really dominant right tackle, (and) he’s a dominant left (tackle),” Clanton said. “He’s unbeatable in pass protection. When you’re trying to get around him at defensive end he’s beating you off the ball. Not only that, but after two kicks he’s already covered 3 or 4 feet and you can’t even see the quarterback behind that.
“For him the transition (to left tackle) is not really an issue.”