Former N-CHS football standout remembered on and off the field

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

A fierce competitor, a gifted athlete, true teammate and a dedicated friend.

These are all words that coaches, rivals and companions use to describe former Newton-Conover High School football standout William “Ty” Brown.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old Brown was tragically killed in a car accident only five days before he was set to graduate from Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Academy in Sanford, N.C.

Nick Bazzle, who coached Brown in football for two years at Newton-Conover High School, found out of his former pupil’s passing after receiving a phone call from his son.

“As coaches, we always hope our players attend our funerals. We don’t want to attend theirs,” Bazzle said. “This is the hardest thing that us as coaches have to go through is the death of a player. Ty would have been a very successful man and father. It’s just sad that someone can be taken from us at this age.”

The news of Brown’s death spread quickly Thursday through his college alma mater — North Carolina Central University.

Travis McCorkle, a Bandys alumnus who played football with Brown for two years at NCCU, found out about his passing on Facebook through some of his former Eagle teammates.

“I didn’t believe it,” McCorkle said. “I had to ask around. A lot of people at Central were sharing it.”

A standout on the prep level, Brown was a pivotal part of Newton-Conover High School’s 2008 state championship football team and its 2009 state runner-up squad — helping the Red Devils win 29 games on the gridiron during those two seasons.

In his senior season for the Red Devils in 2009, Brown recorded 83 tackles, made eight interceptions (returning two for touchdowns) and forced three fumbles.

While he only spent two years with the Newton-Conover football program after moving away from the Charlotte area in 2007, Bazzle said Brown’s impact on the Red Devils was immense.

“Ty was a heck of an athlete,” Bazzle said. “He was God-gifted with size and ability. He was able to do things that other people couldn’t do.”

While talented, Brown’s contributions went beyond the field of play.

“Ty was a high character kid,” Bazzle said. “His dad, Dan, was a coach, too. I thought that had a lot to do with it. Ty cared about people. That was one thing that always stood out in my mind. He always cared about his teammates.”

Brown’s versatility on the high school football field made him an asset, and he played every position except for offensive line and running back during his time at N-CHS.

“He was a raw player when he first came in,” Bazzle said. “He didn’t have a lot of football skill, so we had to coach him. He caught on quickly. He was that kind of a player.”

Even Brown’s rivals — including former Maiden High School and UNC-Charlotte quarterback Matt Johnson — were inspired by the former Red Devil.

“I know (Brown) just loved the game and played his heart out,” Johnson said.“I looked up to him when he ran against Maiden in track. I wanted to be as fast as him.”

Playing against each other in high school, McCorkle saw first hand Brown’s transformation from the prep to collegiate levels.

“On the field in high school, Ty was good, but in college, he turned into another animal,” McCorkle said. “He was dedicated to his craft. He was a hard worker.”

McCorkle will most remember Brown’s competitive spirit on the football field.

“If I’m on a football team, I want 11 Ty Brown’s on the field,” McCorkle said. “He was an amazing person to be around. If I’m building a mentor program for younger players, I’m getting Ty Brown to run it.”

Advising many during his time at NCCU, Brown helped McCorkle transition to college upon joining the Eagles in 2012.

“(Brown) told me what I needed to do when I first got to college to be a better offensive lineman,” McCorkle said. “He saw certain things in me. He had a good heart. He always meant well with everything he did. At Central, a lot of people looked up to him.”

Brown finished his college football career at NCCU with 183 tackles (99 solo) and 13.5 sacks in 43 games layed, including 36 starts at linebacker and defensive end. He graduated with a degree in political science.

In May 2015, Brown’s talent and hard work on the field earned him a post-draft rookie mini-camp opportunity with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he did not make the team.

With his playing days behind him, Brown decided to pursue a career in law enforcement, and he had recently passed his state final for the BLET Academy.

While he’ll never get an opportunity to serve in the field of duty, Bazzle is proud of the young man for what he achieved in his life.

“When you go through and coach kids, you hope they turn out to be successful,” Bazzle said. “You try to help them along that trail and teach them to be good people.Ty never got into trouble.He was never a troubled kid. All of his teachers loved him at school. For him to want to be a police officer is right in line with where I thought he’d end up being because he loved serving people.He was that kind of a kid. It’s unbelievable that he’s gone.”