With the departure of Miles Sanders for the NFL, and the increasing popularity of the “running back by committee” approach in college football, it’s almost guaranteed that projected starter Ricky Slade will not be getting all of the carries this upcoming season. Behind him, there is a number of capable backs that can handle the increased load of carries expected of them. Noah Cain has impressed folks in his short time on campus, and Devyn Ford has preformed just as well. But, as the title suggests, Journey Brown is the one poised to make the most out of his opportunity right now.
A redshirt sophomore, Brown started his career on special teams, as most players on a stacked position are wont to do. He spotted Sanders and Slade some last season, appearing in eight games total, and getting an opportunity to score at Illinois. Limited availability prevented him from showing everything he was capable of last season, but this year may be a little different. From being tagged as an offseason standout earlier this year to his coach praising him at Big Ten media days, all the pieces are there for Journey to have the kind of season his coach thinks he could have. Here’s what James Franklin had to say at Big Ten Media days last week:
“He’s one of those guys that, it would not surprise me if he had a breakout year,” Franklin said. “He has an unbelievable body, and he’s big, strong, and fast. He’s starting to play with the speed and athleticism that he has, and he’s just maturing and growing up.
Coaches tend to play up their own players, of course, and one cannot ignore that Brown is currently suspended for violation of team rules. Suspension notwithstanding, Brown has still shown he has what it takes to carry the load this season and then some.