University of Maine season opener against Delaware at Alfond Stadium. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Kahzir Brown had a rough baptism to college football.

The University of Maine’s true freshman cornerback found himself lined up against talented veteran wide receiver Devin Young during one of the first practices this season.

“He mixed me up on his route. He beat me. It was a reality check,” Brown said.

So Brown went to work, watching video and doing everything he could to improve.

He figures he was third or fourth string when they began training camp but injuries piled up and as he kept getting better, he moved up the depth chart.

He wound up starting against William and Mary and had five tackles and an interception. He had five more tackles in the 19-16 win at Albany and had two in the 45-24 win at Rhode Island.

He will be back out there on Saturday at noon for Military Appreciation Day and Senior Day as the Black Bears, 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association, host Stony Brook (3-5, 2-3). UMaine has won three in a row and Stony Brook has won its last two and was off last weekend. It is UMaine’s last home game.

“He has been tremendous,” said graduate student linebacker and leading tackler Ray Miller. “Cornerback is the toughest position to play on the field. He has given us a boost. He is a great cover guy, he is lengthy and he can make open field tackles.

“He’s a very well-rounded cornerback. I can’t wait to see how he develops,” Miller added.

University of Maine football player Kahzir Brown. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

Brown, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound native of Trenton, New Jersey, said he has had his struggles against veteran wide receivers.

“I’m in a hard position because I’m learning but I also have to play well because I’m a starter,” Brown said. “But I’m always up for a challenge. So I’m going to try to do my best every time I step on the field not just for me but for my teammates and my coaches.”

As he has gained experience, he has been able to better recognize the opponents’ tendencies and he said watching video has been extremely beneficial.

“You get to see what other teams do, what routes they run on whatever down it is,” he said. “Video slows the game down for me 100 percent.”

He also thanked Rich Carr, UMaine’s senior quarterback. “He has been like a big brother to me. He has taught me everything. He’s got me right.”

Brown is currently working on his technique and studying opposing receivers so he can get a leg up in their one-on-one battles.

“He prepares every single day,” said UMaine head coach Nick Charlton. “When you look at how he approaches this thing, we had a feeling he would have a shot to come in here and play. Ultimately, the situation presented itself and he has taken advantage of his opportunity.”

Charlton said Brown has a strong skill set.

“He is very gifted. He is fast, he is physical. He has all those features. Again, I like his level of preparedness and how he attacks every single day,” Charlton said.

Brown chose UMaine because of the family atmosphere and said the rural setting agrees with him.

“It’s way slower [than Trenton] but I love the trees and nature. It’s amazing up here,” he said.

Derek Robertson remains the starting quarterback for UMaine even though Joe Fagnano has returned to practice after being sidelined by an ankle sprain. Robertson has completed 104 of 206 passes for 1,345 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions. Young (38 catches-430 yards) and Andre Miller (31-548) are the leading receivers and Freddie Brock has 96 carries for 471 yards and the reigning CAA Rookie of the Week is averaging 92.7 yards per game during the winning streak.

Co-Defensive Player of the Week Miller has a team-high 64 tackles and Fofie Bazzie has 54.

Stony Brook’s Ty’Son Lawton (146 carries, 787 yards) leads the CAA with 98.4 rushing yards per game. Tyquell Fields has completed 121 of 213 passes for 1,459 yards and six TDs with eight interceptions. Shawn Harris Jr. (26-445) and Delante Hellams Jr. (25-301) are the Seawolves’ top receivers and the defense features Tyler King (69 tackles) and Reidgee Dimanche (61).