CEDAR FALLS — On the football field, Northern Iowa defensive lineman Brawntae Wells plays with passion and purpose.
When he’s not on the field or in a classroom, Wells also has a clear understanding of his purpose.
Earlier this month, Wells, a Family Services major with a minor in criminology at UNI, was honored by the Institute for Sport and Social Justice as its October Playmaker of the Month for his work on the field and in the community..
“He gets involved in all the things you should as a student when you are in school, let alone a student-athlete,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said.
The ISSJ’s mission is to use the power of sport to effect positive social change, educate and empower individuals and organizations by inspiring values-based thinking to actions that promote social responsibility and equality.
Wells got that himself growing up in a household that had structure, leadership, and discipline that formulated a strong idea on what Wells wanted to be when football no longer was part of his daily life.
“It started off with the way I was raised in my home. I’ve never been a selfish person which allowed me to put things before myself,” said Wells, who carries a 3.344-grade point average. “There has always been a bigger purpose in life, and the big purpose for me is to serve others. That is just something I have a passion for is to change lives, create relationships.”
Wells emphasis is in juvenile delinquency and he has plans to eventually work within the Polk County Juvenile Detention Service. He says his passion for creating a rapport and making a difference with the individuals he interacts with grows on a daily basis.
Wells has been making that impact on the community of Waterloo where he volunteers as a youth mentor for the Juvenile Court Services and at the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center where he makes an impact on youth aged 12-18.
Additionally, Wells volunteers at Tomorrow’s Leaders Youth After School program and serves on the Minority Student-Athlete Leadership team at UNI, an organization that is responsible for assisting in the strengthening the student-athlete community by growing personal and professional networks.
“It is a passion for me to be able to create relationships with these individuals and gain their trust and develop their lives for them to be productive members of society,” Wells said. “My job is to keep them surround in a positive area, develop a positive mindset which hopefully leads to positive behavior.”
Wells is also making an impact for the Panther football team.
After appearing in 13 games last fall for UNI, Wells, while not a starter, is consider one of the more indispensable players for the Panthers as he spells relief across the entire defense line where he will line up at right end one play, tackle another and left end on a third play.
“What he does on the football field is very important for us,” Farley said. “Everybody is looking at Elerson (Smith) and Seth (Thomas), but Brawntae is the key to the whole thing. Brawntae keeps those guys fresh.
“When Brawntae comes in the others get a rest, and we don’t lose a beat. Brawntae is really a key to a lot of stuff we do because he gives us a lot of choices.”
In five games, Wells has 16 tackles, including two for loss and 1 1/2 sacks, while he also has broken up two passes.
“My career has been fun,” Wells said. “I get to come in here each and every day and work my butt off with a whole bunch of guys that I love and care about.
“So far, the season has been good for me, but I’m never satisfied. There is always more work to do. I always can be more technical, and you have to come in each day and understand that. You got to put in the work if you want results.”