LEWISTON — It isn’t enough for Daquawn Brown that in the third practice of his collegiate football career, he was already taking reps with the No. 2 defense at cornerback.
The self-assured freshman from Los Angeles had his sights set even higher.
“I expected to just come in here and dominate by my talent, but it humbled me,” Brown said well after Monday’s practice had ended, his shoulder pads shucked after a lengthy post-practice workout. “I’ve actually played at a higher level than I thought I was. Playing with these dudes out here, it’s great competition, as you can see, day in, day out.”
It’s a competition Brown, nicknamed “Cheetah,” will be involved in, one way or the other. He said he chose Washington State over offers from UCLA and Washington, among others, because WSU’s lack of depth at corner aligned with his desire to play right away.
“You wouldn’t go to a school and expect not to play, or go to a school and want to sit down,” Brown said. “You should want to play and want to continue to get better at what you came here for. I expect to play as a true freshman, and I’m working hard to do that.”
That’s the expectation of defensive coordinator Mike Breske, too. Breske said Brown was recruited with the idea that he could help the team this season, and his summer workouts — along with his speed and agility — reinforced that notion.
The coach raves about Brown’s competitive nature, though he notes the freshman must prove to be a quick study.
“The pace, we’ve talked with him, is a lot faster than what he’s used to,” Breske said. “But he’s competing, and that’s what we like. He’s given up some plays, but he comes right back and he’s made some plays. Getting him ready for Aug. 31. He’s got to grow up in a hurry.”
Of course, Breske’s defense — any college defense — is more complicated and requires more attention to detail than the schemes Brown played at powerhouse Dorsey High School, where he was an all-league, all-region selection by the Los Angeles Times.
But cornerbacks in Breske’s aggressive 3-4 scheme are often required to play man-to-man coverage on an island, so to speak, and that’s something Brown said appeals to his coverage desires.
“The plays that he calls give me the chance to show my skills as far as man, and different ways I can disguise what I’m playing,” Brown said. “I’m very good at that because (with) my high school defensive backs coach, we did a lot of stuff similar to the stuff we do out here.”
Brown, who goes 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, twice swatted away passes during a 1-on-1 drill against 6-3 receiver Vince Mayle on Monday, though he was also beaten a couple times during 7-on-7.
Still, for a freshman four days into his first preseason camp, most consider him ahead of schedule.
“He’s come along a lot more than a lot of freshmen would,” said senior safety Deone Bucannon, who played regularly as a freshman in 2010. “He just needs to learn the scheme of the defense and just understand what his reads are.”
WSU’s No. 1 cornerbacks so far have been who you might expect: seniors Damante Horton and Nolan Washington, both of whom struggled at times last year but have “kind of stepped away from the other cats” in the competition to start at corner, Breske said.
Brown won’t be satisfied unless he sees the field, too.
“I’ve just got to catch onto these plays a little bit more, get my tempo up,” he said, “and I should be playing this year.”