Quarterback Showing Signs of Greatness


 Chancellor High School hadn’t made the playoffs since 2012, and things were looking grim for the program’s future. 

Then Jason Brown stepped on the scene, and with him came hope for the future.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback out of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has been defying the odds since before he arrived at Saint Francis. As an undersized and inexperienced freshman, Brown stepped into the starting role for Chancellor right away. This was his first obstacle on his path to becoming a star quarterback. 

After starting all four years at Chancellor, Brown amassed 96 total touchdowns and 7,865 yards, both through the air and on the ground. Then came obstacle number two: more non-believers and naysayers. 

After being ranked a three-star QB and earning the Battlefield Conference Player-of-the-Year award his senior year, Brown was left with few options to continue his career. He had interest from multiple big-time schools and offers from smaller Division II schools, such as UVA-Wise and Virginia State, but Saint Francis was the only Division I school to pull the trigger and offer Brown a scholarship.

Then came obstacle number three for Brown. After his senior season, he was invited to play in the NFBD All-Star Game in Pittsburgh and he tore his ACL. This game, Brown said, gave him a new outlook on football and life. 

Brown has embraced the underdog role, both as a player and for the Red Flash football program as a whole. He knows SFU may not have the flashiest facilities or the media exposure some of the other schools in the NEC receive, but none of that mattered when he signed on the dotted line. 

“My ultimate goal for this program is to bring rings to this team. I came here to win and we are very capable of doing so,” said Brown. “I want to leave a legacy with the guys I came in with and be remembered as one of the greatest football teams to come through Saint Francis.” 

      Speaking of guys he came in with, wide receiver EJ Jenkins is a name everyone will know soon enough. Jenkins has been Brown’s best friend since youth football. They’ve grown up and played football together since they were little, and that connection shows on the field. Jenkins had offers from bigger FBS schools after his career at Chancellor, but he chose to follow his QB and best friend to Saint Francis. 

“Having EJ is kind of like a safety blanket,” said Brown. “Knowing I have a 6-8 receiver that can go up and get the ball at any time is a stress reliever for me. I’ve been with him since middle school, so our connection on and off the field is special.” 

The road to recovery was not an easy one for Brown. Struggling with weight gain during ACL recovery is a common issue, as the player’s ability to work out drastically suffers. Brown experienced this when he gained 30 pounds in the months after his surgery. 

Then that underdog mindset kicked in during last semester. The QB dropped over 30 pounds over the next five months, and it is obvious how much it has helped him on the field. In his first collegiate start, a road game against Lehigh, SFU was looking for revenge after a last-second loss in the previous season-opener. Brown orchestrated a game-winning drive with under two minutes remaining that ended with a circus scramble and a 35-yard touchdown pass. SFU held on for a 14-13 victory. 

Brown is currently ranked in the top 50 in the nation in passing efficiency among FCS QBs. The wins will come, Brown says, but he says he wouldn’t be able to have the production he has had this season without offensive coordinator Marco Pecora. He is a man who adopts the same philosophy as Brown when it comes to life and football: do what you know you can. A former linebacker at Pitt and IUP, Pecora switched from his defensive coordinator position last season to offensive coordinator this year. 

“I have a really good relationship with Coach P,” said Brown. “My first two years here, we didn’t talk as much because he was on the defensive side of the ball. But when he came over to be the offensive coordinator, we just clicked. 

“We both had the same goals for this offense and our relationship became very strong. It helps me on the field, knowing that he has my back no matter if I’m doing good or I’m playing bad. I know he’ll tell me what to fix in order to succeed on and off the field.” 

The duo has done just that, reinventing the SFU offense in just one season. The Red Flash offense finished the 2018 season averaging 26 points per game, second to last in the conference. This season they are currently averaging the third most yards per play in the conference and are tied for third in the conference in touchdowns at 32. 

With just two games remaining against Wagner and Delaware State, Brown is on the cusp of making history at Saint Francis. He is just 427 yards and three touchdowns away from breaking the record for single-season passing yards and touchdowns, set by Anthony Doria and Zack Drayer, respectively. 

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I’m so close to those, with all that I went through to get to where I am now,” Brown said. 

While the wins may not have come right away, they will, says Brown. The culture is changing, the offense is revitalized, and this team is hungry.

And it has a quarterback prepared to help deliver it to greatness.