Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Brewer combines faith with football

It’s the fourth quarter against Indiana, and the Wildcats are desperately clawing out of a 28-3 hole. Senior quarterback Mike Kafka drops back from the shotgun and looks for streaking wide receiver Andrew Brewer over the middle of the field. Kafka delivers a strike to the senior wideout, who catches the ball in stride. Brewer promptly throws down a would-be tackler before being tripped into the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown reception, bringing Northwestern within striking distance for the largest comeback victory in school history.

In an offense without a heralded big-play weapon, Brewer is the Cats’ best option as vertical threat. His 16.7 yards per catch is the best among NU’s top six receivers by more than five yards. He’s big – 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds – physical and fast.

“(Andrew), when healthy, he can really run,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “He’s a difference maker. Saturday he played really well. He had maybe the best game of his career.”

Along with the late touchdown, Brewer notched eight receptions for 135 yards. It was the third game this season he topped 100 yards receiving. Fellow senior wideout Zeke Markshausen, the Cats’ leading receiver, said Brewer’s emergence as a playmaker gives the offense different looks on the field.

“It adds a whole other element to the passing game,” Markshausen said. “I’m catching some shorter stuff and trying to spread the field also, but he’s really spreading the field when he takes his vertical routes. He makes those (defensive backs) respect him, so the help that he provides is immense.”

Brewer initially arrived in Evanston in 2005 as a quarterback and made his first career start against Penn State as a redshirt freshman. He played wide receiver for part of the 2006 season, and completed the transition from the backfield after the season. However, Brewer broke his arm in the preseason, forcing him to sit out his entire sophomore season.

Despite going away from the position he excelled at in high school, Brewer said his quarterback experience has eased the transition into becoming a serviceable receiver. “When you go out to receiver, it’s kind of like ‘Oh, I have this knowledge,'” Brewer said.

“You kind of understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. It helps you make some reads as you’re running routes.”

After Brewer caught 18 passes last year, 2009 has been his breakout campaign. He’s second on the team in catches and yards with 31 and 519, respectively, while leading the receiving corps with five touchdowns.

“Last year he had that same ability, it was just the opportunity,” Kafka said. “Andrew has really grasped the opportunity this year. Balls are placed in his hands, and he’s able to go out and make some plays.”

While Brewer may be playing big on Saturdays in 2009, there are bigger things in life than football. Brewer said faith finds its way onto the football field as well. He studied religion as an undergraduate and is planning on joining the ministry after college.

“It’s had a pretty big impact on a lot of the guys on the team who are also seeking and searching and trying to figure out their faith as well,” he said.

Markshausen said for players like himself and Brewer, God acts as an unseen 12th man on the field. The two lead pre-game prayers in the locker room for those who wish to partake, giving thanks for the opportunities they have been given to play.

“It takes our relationship to another level, and it really adds an element to our game,” Markshausen said. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am without it, and I think he (Brewer) can attest to the same thing.”

Big body, big athleticism and big faith: Those are the fundamental parts adding up to big plays for Brewer. While all three components may characterize him as a football player, only one will ever characterize him as a person. Luckily for NU, all three intertwine once he steps between the lines.

“My faith is what makes me who I am,” Brewer said. “I’m defined by who I am in my relationship with Jesus. It’s a really cool opportunity because that’s where I gain my strength and my courage to get me through football.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Brewer combines faith with football