Illinois Linebacker Jonathan Brown Learned From Unsportsmanlike Penalty, Suspension Last Season

Apr 14, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Jonathan Brown (45) before the spring game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown has moved on from suspension, asserted himself as leader on team's defense.

Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown was suspended one game last season after he kneed Northwestern's Patrick Ward in the groin during a game. Brown, a junior, has learned from that incident and told the Chicago Tribune he's trying to be a better example for teammates this season:

He said this week he has matured and moved on. He's worried about a few other sets of eyes now that he's the veteran leader of the Illini linebackers.

"I feel like, me personally, I have to step up and be more vocal, doing things the right way so I can set an example for guys looking up to me," Brown said.

Brown, a second team All-Big Ten selection last season, also said he has learned to be more passionate about the game, something he learned from watching Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis:

"I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy it, but I got a little uptight sometimes," Brown said. "I didn't appreciate the moments last year. This year, that's something I'm starting to do every day in practice."

Illinois opens its season Sept. 1 against Western Michigan.

Read more about Fighting Illini football at SB Nation Chicago.

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