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Penn State Preseason Top 10: No. 3 Journey Brown

*insert Journey lyric here*

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on. Because of a tie in voting, there is no number seven in this year’s countdown.

How He Got Here

After redshirting his first season and being sparsely used as a redshirt freshman, Journey Brown finally got an opportunity in 2019. While he got off to a slow-ish start — he had just 297 yards through the first seven games of the season — he capped off his redshirt sophomore year with a number of breakout performances, most notably against Minnesota, Ohio State, and Memphis.

It was at the Cotton Bowl specifically where Journey jumped into the spotlight, as he rushed for 202 yards on just 16 carries, displaying a rare combination of speed and power that most running backs don’t have.

What to Expect in 2020

For as talented as Journey is, he’ll have company in the backfield next year with Noah Cain and Devyn Ford taking carries. Because of that, games where Journey sees 20+ carries will likely be far-and-few between — something which could hurt his stock when it comes to all-conference honors and award season.

Fortunately, that stuff doesn’t really matter. Everyone who watches football knows how talented Journey is, so if he misses out on First Team All-Big Ten because he doesn’t break the century mark — oh well. What does matter is seeing if Journey has taken the next step, and the way I look at it, there’s three main areas:

  1. Consistency: Journey didn’t really get started until November, so you’d like to see a longer sustained period of success this season. With Noah Cain waiting in the wings, Journey can’t afford a slow start.
  2. Power: I tweeted this last year during the Rutgers game, but I thought Journey needed another 10-or-so pounds of muscle to really take his game to the next level. Just a little extra mass in his lower half so he’s able to bounce off tacklers with a bit more ease. Fortunately, if the rosters on GoPSUSports are accurate, Journey has done just that, now weighing in at 216 compared to the 205 he was last year. If that’s accurate, I expect more “GET OFF ME” runs like we saw in Dallas.
  3. Passing Game: This is as a receiver, but just as importantly, as a pass blocker. The greats impact the game in all areas, and that includes helping keep Clifford upright.