Wells’ passion to mentor underprivileged youth


Panther junior defensive lineman Brawntae Wells’ passion on the field is matched by his purpose in life to mentor and inspire underprivileged youth.

The Des Moines native was recognized as the October Playmaker of the Month for his work on the field and in the community by the Institute for Sport and Social Justice.

“It was really amazing to know that others care about some of the things that I care about,” Wells said. 

“Seeing others want to applaud me for what I do in the community, and applaud me for my passion for wanting to help young individuals be productive members of society; it feels really good.  Something that I’m really proud of that I get to share with my family, especially my mother the way she raised me and my older brothers […] it stays true to my character.”

Head coach Mark Farley was proud to see the fellow Panther making a difference.

“Brawntae received a really nice award for what he did within the community,” Farley said. 

“He goes to practice every day, he does the things on the football field, then he goes and does the community work […] he is always trying to make a difference because that’s important to him.  That’s why he came to school here, because of the criminology program.”

Wells works as a volunteer youth mentor with the Juvenile Court Services in Waterloo and at the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center.  Growing up in Des Moines, Wells looks to help those that are in similar situations.

“I understand what it’s like growing up in an urban neighborhood,” Wells said.  “On a daily basis I understand what some of these young individuals experience, so me being able to relate with them and being able to be that role model, that positive figure to show them how I was able to overcome and see past the negatives.  It just makes it awesome for what I do.”

Wells is able to help in multiple ways, and inspire through his work as a student athlete.

“It can be personal, life, family structure,” Wells said. “It can be their academics.  Some of them may have behavioral issues, or some just need a positive figure.  Some of them are athletes and they want to know what it’s like to be a successful student athlete.

“You get to be there for the kids.  They just need positive guidance […] you show them that just because there’s a lot of negativity around you, there’s still a lot of positivity that you just haven’t been exposed to.”

Wells is on pace to graduate with a degree in Family Services and a minor in Criminology with the plan of working near his hometown within the Polk County Juvenile Detention services.

“It just provides a structure for me to be able to go back home and be a huge influence on other lives not just out in the community, but also in the [juvenile] system to let them know that they’re not given up on,” Wells said.

Wells was raised to serve a bigger purpose as he continues to make a difference in the community.

“My mom raised me to be about something bigger than myself,” Wells said on Panther Sports Talk.  “There’s always a bigger purpose, and that’s why I love UNI.  It’s a big family, and we’re all about something bigger than just an individual in what we work for.”