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Torrence Brown will be Penn State’s Breakout Player in 2017

In our ongoing series, our writers name the Penn State football player they think will break out the biggest way in 2017. Up next, Rowen discusses his pick: defensive end Torrence Brown.

NCAA Football: Temple at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the presence of upperclassmen Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan, some saw 2016 as a potential break-out season for Torrence Brown. This year, with Sickels and Schwan departed, the Tuscaloosa native seems like a sure bet as someone who will become a household name by the end of November. Playing time at defensive end will be competitive in 2017 with Brown competing against Shane Simmons, Shareef Miller, Ryan Buchholz and Shaka Toney. It’s safe to expect all of these players will get a chance to make an impact this year, as Sean Spencer frequently rotates his defensive linemen to help keep them fresh.

Torrence Brown’s experience should help to set him apart both as a technician on the field, and as a leader. He’s not the most explosive of the bunch, but has shown an ability to get to the quarterback, although his sack totals decreased last year despite increased playing time. Torrence has proven capable of tracking down fumbles, and forcing them, with 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles in 18 games played. Most notably, Brown capped last-season’s win over Indiana with a scoop-and-score on a Richard Lagow fumble in the fourth quarter.

In 2016 Brown added to his 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries with 33 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, and 0.5 sacks. After forcing 1.5 sacks in his redshirt freshman season, many expected him to build upon that number. Instead he was surpassed by both Shareef Miller and Ryan Buchholz in that regard. Sacks aren’t everything, but with young guns Shane Simmons and Shaka Toney also pressing for playing time, Torrence Brown will have to earn the a starting spot each and every week of the 2017 season. I expect the competition on the defensive line throughout the spring and summer, along with an improved offensive line to practice against will be a benefit to Brown.

At the time of the Blue-White Game Torrence was confident that he is putting in the work and performing well enough to earn a starting position this fall. I expect this to hold true through much of the season. While he may not be the most hyped of the potential impact players at defensive end, I expect he’ll be the most consistent producer and an anchor on the outside for the Wild Dogs.

The opportunity is there for Torrence Brown to breakout and be a major force for the Nittany Lions defense this year. Gone are Sickels and Schwan, and with a talented core playing inside of Brown at defensive tackle, opposing offensive lines are going to have a tough time deciding on who they want to focus their attention on. Do you try and shut-down Cothran and Givens on the inside, or maybe avoid them entirely? If teams decide to attack the outside of the defense, which I expect will be the case, Torrence Brown will be among the first players called upon to step up and force play back into the interior. Very few teams have an offensive line capable of shutting down what is shaping up to be a strong defensive line for Penn State in 2017, and this bodes well for the veteran Torrence Brown.

This is from 2015, but I couldn’t resist including it. Let’s hope for more hits like this from Torrence in 2017.

Torrence Brown sacks Jake Rudock