OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University defensive line was devastated by injuries last season, but none hurt more than the loss of Austin Brown.
Brown, a team captain and projected preseason MAC all-star, sustained a stress reaction in his back during the summer and re-aggravated it in the second game of the season against Southern Illinois. He would miss the final 10 games of his senior year, but was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, which means he’s back for one more go-around.
“He’s fine,” MU defensive tackles coach Robert Lee said. “He’s ready to go.”
That’s good news for the RedHawks, who finished 11th in the Mid-American Conference in total defense and 12th in rushing defense in 2012.
Brown (6-2, 274 pounds) has recorded 130 total tackles with 23.5 for loss during his four-year career at Miami. He will likely line up next to senior Mwanza Wamulumba (6-3, 264), who started 10 games last season.
“Mwanza was kind of an iron man for us,” Lee said. “Being one of the upperclassmen, he had to play a lot of snaps.”
Wamulumba tallied 39 tackles, five for loss, and 2.5 sacks in place of Brown. He lined up next to departing senior Mike Johns and sophomore Wesley Scott (6-3, 245), who started the last four games of the season in place of the injured Johns.
Lee, who was the RedHawks’ running backs coach last season, says the staff knows what Brown, Wamulumba and Scott are capable of. He expects all three to be major contributors this upcoming season, but he also knows that there are a few younger players who will be in the mix as well.
“Guys that are coming along that I’m really happy with are Mitch Winters, Jimmy Rousher and Jalen Johnson,” he said.
Winters (6-5, 255), a sophomore, played in seven of Miami’s final eight games last season, while Rousher (6-3, 240) is a rising sophomore who sat out last year. Johnson (6-8, 225) also was sidelined last year per NCAA rules, as he transferred from Valparaiso.
“We are really working hard on coming off blocks, sitting our butt down and getting in position to make that tackle,” Lee said. “We are halfway through spring, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of work to do. So far we’re in a good spot.”