Brown has named to several national award watch lists.


 Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown has moved on. The junior no longer cares about what anybody else thinks.   Suspended one game midway through last season for unsportsmanlike conduct after ramming his knee into a Northwestern lineman, Brown's moment of weakness damaged his reputation, but he's looking forward to a new season and more responsibility under first-year Illini defensive coordinator Tim Banks.   "If they still think about that game, they still think about it,'' Brown said. "My teammates know what type of player I am, the person I am. I'm not really going out there to change the impression. I'm going out there to play football.''   Already named to the watch lists of five national awards, Brown might have already done enough to change public perception. Meanwhile, he also impressed coach Tim Beckman by better controlling his emotions this fall.   "You learn something new everyday,'' Brown said. "This spring and summer has been a great time for me to mature as a person.   "I needed to work on it. Nobody can push you to do something unless you want to do it. It's definitely something I've been trying to improve. It's definitely the next piece. It's not the last piece. You're never fully complete. You have to keep adding pieces.''   Brown knows it was a bad mistake, even if his coaches last season said Brown's knee never landed to the groin of his opponent. The Memphis native called the move "bonehead'' and later said, "It was the lowlight of my season that got put into a highlight.''   During spring drills, Beckman saw a player with great natural instincts learned from his days in the backyard with step-father, Richard Kinley. Former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning marveled at Brown's knowledge of the game. Beckman saw the talent and the drawback.   "He's a great player,'' Beckman said. "Sometimes, he can't control his temper.''   While also featuring defensive end-linebacker Michael Buchanan, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and cornerback Terry Hawthorne -- three other guys expected to go high in the NFL draft next spring -- nobody has played better this fall than Brown, Beckman said.   "Right now, he's as good as I've been around,'' Beckman said.   In a span of seven games played last fall (not including sitting the Indiana game because of suspension), Brown finished with double-figure totals in tackles in six of those games. Brown ranked second in Big Ten play with 83 tackles. He tied teammate Whitney Mercilus for the league lead with 14.5 tackles for a loss.   Brown and Houston Bates have shared time at both linebacker spots, but Brown's assignments haven't changed much this fall despite working under a different coaching staff.   "That's why he's been able to raise his game,'' linebackers coach Steve Ward said. "He's feeling comfortable with what he's trying to do.''   Brown also has more responsibilities after the Illini lost leaders Ian Thomas and Trulon Henry on defense.   "The biggest thing is going out there and being a leader,'' Brown said. "Now it's going out there and making sure guys are in the right spots and doing the right things.''   NOTES: Cornerback Terry Hawthorne's preseason has been slowed by a sprained ankle, Beckman said. Hawthorne indicated he hasn't yet worked at wide receiver in fall camp. . . Pat Nixon-Youman and Earnest Thomas have been working at the first string while Supo Sanni (leg) and Steve Hull (shoulder) were slowed by injuries. Sanni has battled Achilles injuries for two seasons. . .    John Supinie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie.