Jerry Brown, the dean of the Wildcat coaching staff, is in his 22nd season with Northwestern. In January 2002, Brown was named assistant head coach. He also coaches the Wildcats' defensive secondary after serving as the defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2001.
Brown's coaching career includes stops at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. Before his return to Evanston in 1993, he served as an assistant on Jerry Burns' staff with the Minnesota Vikings, tutoring wide receivers in 1988 and 1989 and defensive backs in 1990 and 1991. The Vikings' defensive unit held opponents to the lowest passing yardage in the NFC in 1990.
Before moving to the professional ranks, Brown served eight seasons as an assistant at Cal State Fullerton. He coached the Titans' wide receivers during that time and also served as offensive coordinator for his last five seasons. Brown also coached defensive backs at Eastern Illinois for three years (1977-79) and coached at his high school alma mater, Roosevelt, in Kent, Ohio, from 1973-77. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 1972 under head coach Alex Agase.
In 1995, Brown's secondary was one of the main reasons that NU led the country in scoring defense (12.7) and was third in turnover margin (+1.82). Three of his defensive backs from that year, Rodney Ray, Hudhaifa Ismaeli and Chris Martin, earned All-Big Ten honors.
A decade later, Brown's defensive back unit was a huge part of Northwestern's defensive resurgence in 2008, helping the Wildcats rank 25th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. The three upperclassmen in the unit (Sherrick McManis, Brad Phillips and Brendan Smith) earned All-Big Ten recognition while freshman Jordan Mabin was named to Rivals.com, Phil Steele, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Sporting News Freshman All-America squads.
That high level of performance continued in 2009 when NU made 17 interceptions, the 16th-best total in the country. McManis ranked eighth nationally in interceptions and 14th in passes defended, earning All-Big Ten first-team honors along with safety Brad Phillips. McManis was chosen in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
Brown coached Mabin to an All-Big Ten honorable mention award in 2010 (media) after the junior cornerback led the conference with 15 passes defended. That total ranks third all-time in school single-season history and ranks Mabin fourth all-time in PBUs. Safety Brian Peters also earned All-Big Ten honors, picking up second-team accolades from the media and an honorable mention nod from the coaches. Peters led NU with 107 tackles and three interceptions on the year.
Peters and Mabin continued to anchor the secondary in 2011, with Peters earning first-team All-Big Ten accolades and finishing third all-time at Northwestern with 12 career interceptions. Redshirt freshman safety Ibraheim Campbell also emerged on the scene, leading the team with 100 tackles and earning Freshman All-America honors from multiple media outlets.
In 2012, the Wildcats secondary was again a source of strength despite its relative youth. Sophomore safety Ibraheim Campbell excelled in his second year as a starter with 11 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Campbell earned consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition.
The Wildcat secondary delivered a strong performance in Northwestern's landmark victory in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. Campbell recorded his fourth career interception on a sideline pass from Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell and VanHoose stepped in front of a dying quail of a pass for his third interception of his redshirt freshman season before returning it for 39 yards.
Brown's secondary was part of a Northwestern defense that recorded 13 total interceptions and helped NU lead the Big Ten in turnover margin for the season (+13).
2013 saw the emergence of two talented underclassmen in the secondary; true sophomore Traveon Henry assumed the starting safety spot alongside Campbell, while true freshman Matthew Harris earned a starting cornerback role following the season-ending injury to opening-day starter Daniel Jones. Campbell, a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten choice, matched a school record for consecutive games with an interception (5) as the NU defense ranked among the nation's leaders with 19 picks on the season.
Including his playing days, Brown has a hand in 142 wins at Northwestern, more than 27 percent of the school's all-time total.
Brown lettered in his sophomore and junior seasons with the Wildcats as a wide receiver, catching 24 passes for 442 yards and two touchdowns. He played defensive back as a senior, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors and helping Northwestern finish second in the conference. That year, he set the single-season record for pass breakups (12). In 1994, one of his pupils, Rodney Ray, broke that mark with 13 pass breakups. Brown was selected in the ninth round of the 1972 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Brown, graduated from Northwestern's School of Education in 1972.
He and his wife, Denise (a 1974 Northwestern graduate), have a son, Jerry, and daughter, Kimberly. The Browns reside in Evanston.
Jerry Brown and his wife, Denise (photographed at Northwestern's "North" Beach")