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The Next Level: Zach Brown powers UNC

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

With Louisville driving into North Carolina territory on a 16-play drive in the second quarter, Tar Heels senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) made his first interception of the season.

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Brown's defensive play all day Saturday helped North Carolina improve to 5-1 with the 14-7 win. Brown led the team with four solo tackles (11 total). The senior is one of top playmakers in the ACC this season and a leader on the Tar Heels defense.

With fellow starting linebacker Kevin Reddick out with injury, Brown became the vocal leader of the defense.

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"We talked about Zach Brown changing his hat a little bit this week," interim head coach Everett Withers said in his post-game news conference. "Kevin [Reddick's] been saying, 'You need to be here. You need to be there.' Zach had to be that guy today."

The 6-foot-2 outside linebacker has a team-high 42 tackles and five for a loss, including 2.5 sacks this season.

If he continues his production, Brown could find himself in the first round of next year's NFL Draft, according to several pundits. Because of his play Saturday, Brown is this week's Next Level Player of the Week.

Honorable mention

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• Temple junior running back Matt Brown (Baltimore native, Peddie School grad) had 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries in the Owls' 42-0 rout of Ball State. Owls senior quarterback Chester Stewart (Hanover native, DeMatha grad) went 10-for-13 passing with 160 yards and a touchdown. He also gained 30 yards on the ground.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) tossed his second touchdown pass of the season and had 60 receiving yards on four catches in the Demon Deacons' 35-30 win against No. 23 Florida State. Junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) returned an interception 50 yards and recorded three solo tackles (four total).

• West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) had a 12-yard touchdown reception and 74 total receiving yards as the No. 16 Mountaineers cruised past Connecticut, 43-16. The touchdown spurred a 26-point run by West Virginia. He also had 51 punt-return yards and 31 kickoff-return yards. West Virginia junior safety Terrence Garvin (Loyola) had four solo tackles (five total) and a team-leading two sacks. Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had a sack and four solo tackles in the loss.

Other contributions

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) had two solo tackles (0.5 sacks, three total tackles) in a 24-19 win against Louisiana-Monroe.

• East Carolina sophomore defensive end Derrell Johnson (Cardinal Gibbons) had a solo tackle (two total) in a 56-3 loss at Houston.

• Maryland junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) had his best game of season with three solo tackles (nine total) and a pass breakup in the Terps' 21-16 loss at No. 13 Georgia Tech. Terps junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) had five solo tackles, including one for a loss, and sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) had four solo tackles (seven total), including three for a loss.

• Michigan freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Good Counsel) had four solo tackles (five total) in the Wolverines' 42-24 win against Northwestern. Michigan freshman safety Josh Furman (Old Mill) had a tackle in the win.

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• Penn State freshman safety Adrian Amos (Calvert Hall) had two solo tackles and a pass breakup in the Nittany Lions' 13-3 win against Iowa.

• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Nick DePaola (Hereford) had two solo tackles in the Scarlet Knights' 34-10 win against Pittsburgh.

• Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had two receptions for 32 yards in the Orange's 37-32 win at Tulane.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) had 195 passing yards (18-for-36 with an interception) and 47 rushing yards on nine carries in the Blazers' 21-3 loss to Mississippi State.

• UNLV freshman wide receiver Mike Horsey (Dunbar) had two solo tackles in a 37-0 loss at Nevada.

• Utah State senior wide receiver Xavier Martin (Joppatowne) had 22 yards on three receptions in the Aggies' 63-19 win against Wyoming.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) had six solo tackles (eight total) in the No. 21 Hokies' 38-35 win against Miami.

• Western Michigan freshman defensive tackle Brendon Gannon (Cardinal Gibbons) had a tackle in a 45-21 win against Bowling Green.

McClatchy-Tribune photo of Zach Brown (celebrating with Jabari Price) by Robert Willett / Oct. 8, 2011

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