Tuesday, October 19, 2021

'Good lord, that guy is ballin': Shakur Brown's breakout season

December 10, 2020
Cornerback, Shakur Brown (29) intercepts a Hoosier pass meant for Indiana wide reciever, Miles Marshal (13).
Cornerback, Shakur Brown (29) intercepts a Hoosier pass meant for Indiana wide reciever, Miles Marshal (13). —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

Cornerback is one of the hardest positions on the football field.

MSU defensive back Shakur Brown said it himself.

"I mean you're running with someone, backward," Brown said. "And he's running full speed at you, I mean, you gotta be pretty athletic to do that."

But Brown, who is tied for the FBS and Big Ten lead with five interceptions this year, makes the position look like poetry in motion.

"I can't say enough about Shakur man, I might be his biggest fan," fellow defensive back and safety Xavier Henderson laughed. "I get the best view (on game days) and I look over and I'm like, 'good lord, that guy is ballin' ... watching Shak play is really fun."

But his success.

Well, that started off the field for the corner that Pro Football Focus has rated as the No. 3 corner in the nation.

Outside the lines

Outside of football, the redshirt junior wants to possibly take over his family's sports apparel business that they started back when he was a kid.

Off the field? Brown got himself right, that's what helped him. But on the field, the Detroit native has been making plays.

"All my off the field stuff, I had to eat right, sleep right, watch the film, you know, study the game," Brown said. "It was a lot of things off the field that got me to this point."

"My attention to detail, over the years I've matured more, started watching a little more film," Brown said.

Watching film, studying and demand for self-excellence has been what drives Brown's competitiveness.

It's that competitiveness that helped him to two interceptions against then-No. 8 Northwestern in the Spartans 29-20 upset of the Wildcats.

The latter of two, with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter of the game, set up the field goal that gave the Spartans the lead for good.

"The quarterback broke, rolled out to his right and I saw him roll out, I locked on to my dude and as soon as he threw the ball I broke to (it)," Brown recalled on the play.

Plays like that let Henderson know his teammate is usually just fine.

When Henderson drifts from sideline to sideline in cover one from his safety spot, if he sees Brown's No. 29 jersey, he said he usually figures he'll be cool.

"I'm always thinking, 'that's No. 29 over there, he should be good by himself'," Henderson said to the media ahead of the Ohio State game.

"That (seeing Brown make plays) gives us, the rest of the secondary a lot more confidence because we want to go make plays like he's doing," Henderson said. "It just brings the level up and you want to play just as good as he's doing."

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"I try to make the guys around me better so I can be better," Brown said.

We're talking about practice

Brown usually draws one of the best receivers on the opposing team every weekend, but competing against Spartan receivers Jayden Reed, Jalen Nailor and having defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett back in the fold has sharpened Brown's skills.

"Coach B (Barnett) has helped me a lot, he's taught me how to watch film, he's just got that Spartan Dawg mentality. Dominate every man, I mean his nickname is the 'bang stick', he's a true Spartan Dawg," Brown said. "Having Coach B is great."

Reed and Nailor, who are both in the top-15 in the Big Ten for receiving yards on the season, are the perfect competition for Brown every week, he said.

"(Need) to be a lot more prepared to go into every week," Brown said. "I can't even say just them, of course, they're two of the best receivers in the Big Ten, but we got a real good receiver group. In my opinion, the best in the Big Ten."

That's what has driven him into one of the best seasons by a defensive back at MSU in recent years.

But for Brown, he kinda thought this might happen.

"It (leading the FBS in interceptions) was one of my goals coming into the season," Brown said.

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