Daily Herald
Meet Northern Illinois' 'Little Reggie Bush'
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/15/2008 5:04 PM

DEKALB - Unless you're a Northern Illinois football aficionado, the name Me'co Brown probably doesn't register. Yet.

To accelerate the familiarity process, don't think of the Huskies' freshman running back as Me'co Brown for a moment.

Think of him as Little Reggie Bush.

Those were the words uttered by former Mississippi head coach Ed Orgeron - USC's assistant head coach for most of Bush's time with the Trojans - when he made a recruiting visit to Moss Point High School in southern Mississippi.

"He was thinking of taking a chance on Me'co," said Moss Point assistant principal Landry Kay, who also served as Brown's running backs coach. "He said, 'He's a little Reggie Bush.'"

But Orgeron was fired after the 2007 season and, well, Brown remained little. How small?

Five-foot-6 and 180 pounds, to be exact, though NIU's roster lists him as 5-7.

So while Brown was voted "Outstanding Back" at LSU's summer camp and lots of coaches loved Brown's skills, nobody wanted to take a chance on him.

(It also hurt that Brown didn't achieve a qualifying ACT score until December and needed to hit a certain grade-point-average last spring).

"Everyone said he was too small to be a Division I back," Kaye said. "I'd tell people, 'Do not look at his size, look at his production. You can't tackle him in a phone booth.'"

Then Northern Illinois assistant Jay Sawvel visited Moss Point in January.

"I was running errands for the teacher and I ran into Coach Sawvel," said Brown, who noticed the NIU logo on Sawvel's clothes. "The first thing that popped up in my head was, 'That's the school Garrett Wolfe went to.'"

Wolfe, now with the Bears, was all of 5-feet-7, 177 pounds when he won the national rushing title in 2006.

Brown turned over his highlight reel to Sawvel, who showed it to head coach Jerry Kill and the rest of the staff.

"His highlight film was pretty impressive," Kill said.

Brown went a step further to describe his highlights, though in a friendly rather than boastful way.

"It's just amazing," Brown said with a smile.

For Moss Point, a Class 4A semifinalist last year, Brown lined up in the backfield and as a receiver. He returned punts and kicks. He even served as the team's kicker.

"He's got so many moves," Kay said. "I used to have to tell him, 'Hit the hole and then make your moves. When he gets into space..."

While the NIU coaches learned early in training camp that they had something special in Brown, NIU fans are just learning how good he can be. He rushed 17 times for 111 yards at Eastern Michigan on Sept. 27, then hit Miami (Ohio) for 123 yards on 16 carries last week.

OK, ready to get even more familiar with Brown's name? Don't feel bad if you don't spell Me'co correctly. He doesn't do it either.

"When I put it down on a paper, I don't put in the apostrophe," Brown said with a laugh. "Only if I'm filling out papers for insurance or something official."