STATE COLLEGE PA - NOVEMBER 27: Wide receiver Justin Brown #19 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches a pass during a game against the Michigan State Spartans on November 27 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College Pennsylvania. The Spartans won 28-22. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Fairly or unfairly, there were a lot of high expectations put on Justin Brown when he was a true freshman in 2009. The heralded triumvirate of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood were finally gone after starting the previous four years. The four star prospect seemed destined to claim one of those spots the moment he stepped on campus and have a good chance at claiming a lot of Penn State's career receiving records.
Brown's freshman year probably didn't work out the way he had hoped. Derek Moye, Graham Zug, and Chaz Powell grabbed most of the playing time. Brown struggled to get on the field, and when he did he didn't get many opportunities only catching five passes for 78 yards on the year. Three of those catches came against Eastern Illinois in a 52-3 blowout.
Last year Brown was more seasoned and appeared ready to challenge for a starting spot. Graham Zug suffered through a season-long slump seemingly opening the door. But it was Brett Brackett that walked through it. Personally, I think Paterno wanted Brackett on the field to provide some leadership to a squad that was very young. Still, Brown managed to see considerable playing time and make some big catches finishing with 33 catches for 452 yards and a touchdown.
This year Brackett and Zug are gone. Brown is a junior and one of the most experienced wide receivers on the team. He probably won't outshine Derek Moye, but he has the potential to be a major weapon. Defenses are going to pay a lot of attention to Moye. It will be up to Brown to keep them honest.