There are no players on the current roster who wear number 86, which gives us a perfect opportunity to reflect on one of the most fearsome defenders ever to play at Penn State. Courtney Brown was the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out Alvin, South Carolina and made an immediate impact as a freshman, playing tackle and tight end. But he found his calling as an utterly dominant defensive end from 1997-1999. He would go on to shatter the records for career sacks and tackles for loss at Penn State, as teams where basically helpless in keeping him out of the backfield.
Brown would eventually go on to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft, but never found his footing during a six-year career in the pros where he played for the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Although he is often labeled as a bust, Brown did play very well when healthy and showed huge potential to as an elite pass-rusher. Unfortunately, he just couldn't stay on the field despite never missing any time with injuries throughout his career at Penn State.
On a personal level, Brown is near the top of my favorite all-time Nittany Lions. His sheer dominance was an utter joy to watch each Saturday, and he had a knack for saving his best performances in Penn State's biggest games. He also inspired me to wear number 86 as a high school football player, although it's safe to say I elicited exactly zero of the fear in opponents as Brown did in his playing days.
Just 86 more days until we watch Penn State in action!