WV Illustrated visits Danville to learn more about Neal Brown

Published 5:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2019


To let West Virginia football fans know more about new football coach Neal Brown, WV Illustrated sent reporter/co-host Nick Farrell and executive producer Chuck Scatterday to Danville recently to put together a 30-minute TV special on the former Boyle County High School standout.

“We wanted to know more about Neal and how he got into coaching,” said Farrell. “We talked to his parents, coaches and others about him. We learned a lot more than we already knew about Neal.

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“Some of it was just confirmation about what we thought we knew about Neal. But we wanted to know more about where he gets some of his best traits. Everybody describes him as genuine and friendly, so we wanted to find out why he is that way.”

WV Illustrated is part of a network of four TV stations in West Virginia and one in Maryland. WV Illustrated also has the rights to Brown’s coaching show that airs weekly during the football season and is hosted by Farrell and Anjelica Trinone.

The special four-part show about Brown aired last weekend with two segments from Danville and two from Morgantown, W.V. It can be seen online at http://bit.ly/NBSpecial.

“I think the most telling thing to me was how similar Danville and Kentucky natives are to the people who root for West Virginia,” Farrell said. “His dad (Tom) said it best when he said Neal is coming from Alabama (where he was head coach at Troy) but he grew up in a blue collar town (Danville) and that’s where he is heading.”

Farrell said Brown’s hiring has already energized the West Virginia fan base because of the coach’s demeanor and the success he had at Troy.

“People here are excited about West Virginia football all the time but even more so now that the new coach is starting to do things differently than before,” Farrell said. “Maybe the team will not be as talented as last year when they had some great players, but Neal somehow has still energized the fan base.”

West Virginia had six players invited to the recent NFL combine, including quarterback Will Grier — a likely first-round draft pick next month who was a one-time Heisman Trophy candidate last year. Also invited were three offensive linemen and two receivers off a team that finished 8-4 last year.

Farrell says Brown, who is putting his team through spring practice now, still has talent in the offensive line and the defense has the “pieces” to be solid.

“The big question obviously is who will play quarterback,” Farrell said. “Austin Kendall transferred from Oklahoma where he played behind two Heisman Trophy winners (Blake Mayfield and Kyler Murray) the last two years. Will he be able to be the starter? (Miami transfer) Jack Allison started the bowl game last season and has that experience.”

Farrell says West Virginia should be “strong” at running back with seniors Kendall McCoy (802 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 2018 along with 224 yards receiving) and Martell Petteway (623 yards and six touchdowns) returning.

Farrell thinks sophomore Leddy Brown, who ran for 446 yards with two 100-yard games and four scores last year, could flourish in Brown’s offense.

“He’s really talented and the running back position has more talent than any position on offense,” Farrell said.

Farrell believes West Virginia underachieved last year despite winning eight games with six future draft picks on offense.

“If Neal could take less talent and win seven or eight games, compete all season and get bowl eligible, fans are really going to love him because I think they understand what he’s facing talent-wise,” Farrell said.

West Virginia’s spring game will be April 13 when fans will get a more detailed look at Brown’s team. However, Farrell says Brown is already a media darling.


“Neal said his favorite time of year is spring because it is all about teaching,” Farrell said. “It’s all been our favorite time (in the media) because there has already been more access to players during the spring than we previously had. This is great for us and I think just confirms what everyone in Danville told us about how great Neal Brown would be to work with.”