Saturday will be homecoming for Duquesne University. For many on campus, it won’t have the same cause for the celebration that the annual usually carries.
Many are still reeling from the sudden loss of Duquesne football player Marquis “Jaylen” Brown, affectionately known as JB.
Brown, a redshirt sophomore running back, was killed late Thursday night when he jumped from a 16th-floor window of Duquesne’s Brottier Hall after campus police were called to investigate a disturbance. It’s not clear why Brown jumped from the high-rise building. His death immediately sent shockwaves through the campus and Duquesne’s athletics department. The front of the building quickly became a gathering point for mourners, and students from all walks of life gathered in the middle of the night for a vigil.
By afternoon, the only sign that something was amiss were the watery eyes of passerby. But the campus, decked out and decorated for homecoming, lacked the usual energy of a sunshine-filled Friday afternoon.
“We are all deeply saddened by the passing of Marquis Brown,” Duquesne athletic director Dave Harper said in a press release. “Our prayers and efforts are focused on supporting his family, friends and teammates through this most difficult time.”
Brown’s loss was felt by many outside the Duquesne community, as well. Robert Morris defensive back Myles Canton and Pitt defense end John Morgan and defensive back Judson Tallandier were high school teammates of Brown’s at DeMatha Catholic High School in Washington, D.C.
— Myles Canton (@M_Canton3) October 5, 2018
— Judson Tallandier Ⅱ (@iamjtii) October 5, 2018
— John D Morgan III ™ (@K1NG__JAY) October 5, 2018
DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks tweeted that “the DeMatha family is in mourning.”
The DeMatha family is mourning the loss of Marquis "Jaylen" Brown '16. Prayers are requested for his family during this difficult time. We love you JB! ???? #OneDeMathaForever pic.twitter.com/SJNV3KXiSg
— Elijah Brooks (@DMCoachBrooks) October 5, 2018
The Duquesne football team was scheduled to open conference play against Bryant on Saturday at 1 p.m., and head coach Jerry Schmitt left it up to the players as to whether or not they’d play.
“The team met early this afternoon as a group and decided that the best way to honor JB’s memory is to play Saturday’s game as scheduled,” Schmitt said. “We left the decision purely up to the team and made it clear that we would support them whether they chose to play or not. This has been a difficult day for everyone associated with our football program and the University as a whole. Above all, we continue to offer our thoughts and prayers to the Brown family.”
The game is of some significance to the Dukes’ season. Bryant and Duquesne finished tied for second in the NEC with 4-2 records in 2017. The Bulldogs are 3-1 this season and already have a conference victory. The Dukes are 3-2.
A moment of silence is expected to take place before the game on Saturday, with a campus memorial service expected to take place on Sunday. Players are also expected to plan individual tributes.