UNIVERSITY PARK (WTAJ) — Penn State junior safety Ji’Ayir Brown stands the be the latest in a run of defensive backs drafted in the NFL out of Penn State, but his path to the league is a little less common than most.
“A lot of people don’t know that he wasn’t recruited at all high school, and he had earned his way up in junior college,” said former Nittany Lion teammate Jaquan Brisker. “So from junior college and earning his way here, a scholarship at Penn State, you know, it’s just an amazing story.”
Last year’s second round pick of the Chicago Bears can related to Brown’s non-traditional path. The two were teammates at Lackawanna Junior College before winding up at Penn State.
“When God has a plan for you and a path for you nothing can stop it,” Brown said during his pro day in April. “He’s going to see his plan through, just keep believing and keep following and do your part of the plan, and you can execute every time. So, operate with no fear. You know, you trust that everything you’ve already been written, you’ve just got to follow through and see it through.”
The safety has been mad productive in two years starting for the Nittany Lions. He was the Rose Bowl’s defensive MVP and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He finished his career with 147 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and ten interceptions.
“I love his game. I love what he does. I love his intelligence, his vision and his love for football. Like you can see it in the way he plays,” said Blue White Illustrated film analyst Thomas Frank Carr.
Brown is versatile, and played both safety positions for Penn State. He covered receivers in man, was an electric pass rusher and was aggressive in run support.
“But the problem is he ran his best time of a 4.57 (in the 40-yard dash.) He ran a 4.6-something at the combine that’s not fast enough to play free safety,” Carr said.
Also unsized, Brown’s future has been tough to pinpoint. Unlike his defensive teammate Joey Porter Jr. who is a near first round lock, Brown will likely go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds. While the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah named him the 40th best prospect in February, most mock draft currently have the New Jersey native going in the middle-to-end of day two with the 49ers, Bills and Browns among the favorite landing spots.
When Tig hears his name, he will be the 12th defensive back drafted out of Penn State since James Franklin took over in 2014. The most of any position.