Veteran Ji’Ayir Brown’s Exploratory Report on Pennsylvania’s New Defensive Emergence


When the Pennsylvania veteran Jer Brown Deciding to return for the 2022 college football season instead of entering the NFL Draft last spring was clearly a positive sign for Nittany Lion’s defense. After all, Brown tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions last season and was sixth and third on the team in tackles of 64.

But other than his field production, Brown is also seen as one of the strongest defense leaders. This is especially true when it comes to three true defensive backs for freshmen who had to wait until this summer to enroll at Penn State.

They are: KJ Winston6-foot-2, 199-pound from Columbia, Maryland; Christian driver, 5-11, 191 pounds from Flower Mound, Texas; And the spoken flowers6-0, 179 Pounds from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“I’m going to tell you something about the three guys and what they all have in common: They all want to learn,” Brown said at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis last week. “They are all hungry, they are all begging me for information. They are asking me to come to the movie room and study with them, they want to come in and they want to give themselves the best possible chances while they are hungry.

“They want to pick everyone’s mind, so you can’t ask for better players than those who play football,” he added. “You can’t ask men to come in and want that kind of thing. Men should want it for themselves, and these guys want it for themselves, and that will go a long way into their future.”

Also new in high school this summer Tyrese Mills, 6-1, 202 pestle from Philadelphia via Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This is the same junior college that produced Brown’s and Penn State’s second-round NFL Draft selection Jaguan Presker.

“It was amazing,” Mills said. “Another guy from Lackawanna – I know his story, shared a similar path with us. So it’s great to see this process restart for someone else. The same way Brisker saw it for me, I see it for someone else from Lackawanna. And I just want to be there to help him out.” Everything, you know, and I teach him everything I can, and I make sure it is as smooth as possible.”

Winston, who played high school ball at DeMatha Catholic strong center, really stood out against Brown during summer rehearsals.

(Photo: Mark Brennan- FOS/247)

“He’s hungry,” Brown said. “You know, he told me on day one, he wants to line up wherever I line up. And I love that for him, because that’s the kind of kid I was, you know, and that’s what I see in KJ too. I see the little boy I was in now. He wants to line up with the best safety, he wants to line up with the best receivers. … His ultimate goal is to compete against the best. As long as you have that command to push you, you’ll be a great player regardless. Competition is everything.”

During the veterans’ first sprint exercise with the newcomers, Brown looked to his side and saw Winston keeping pace with his stride.

“That’s a plus,” Brown said. “You cannot train it, you cannot desire it for men. Men must desire it for themselves.”

The driver is the son of former NFL player Donald Driver, who played under the current PSU coach James Franklin When the latter was an assistant to the Green Bay Packers in 2005. Although he plays in a different position than his father’s, the younger driver has inherited his father’s football IQ.

Christian driverHe’s very smart – he’s very smart, said Brown. “…He learned in a place like this (fast). He asks questions 24/7. Like I said before, you can’t want that to guys; guys want it for themselves. They want to get that advice from a senior Age.

“And these guys all come to me for advice,” he added. “They all come to me to learn. I very much appreciate being in a position to teach and help them throughout their careers.”

Brown was also influenced by where the young defenders are physically.

“These kids are as strong as me,” he said, “and I did five years in college.” “They’re really ready. That’s another thing—these guys, they’re hungry, they want to get in and they want to play right away, so during their high school years, they were working really hard just to make sure their bodies were ready. So that was another surprise for me.”

Brown sees the latest crop of defense scholarship support as another indication of how Penn State High School has gradually improved over the past few years.

“I was looking at these guys, these guys are amazing,” he said. “They are ready. They come in fast, they come in strong – mentally prepared. They come in really mature guys, which is what I would love to see more of. The coach is doing a great job with these recruits.”

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