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

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

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
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 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.

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