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.
Reminder: This is a Top 10 for how the players will produce this season. It’s not just based on what they have done in their career up to this point. Instead, it’s how we think they will play this coming season.
How He Got Here
Ji’Ayir Brown arrived in Happy Valley during the 2020 offseason, after playing his first two years at the JUCO-to-Penn State pipeline that is Lackawanna Community College. During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Brown saw action at safety in all nine games, recording six tackles and a pass breakup.
2021 was Ji’Ayir’s breakout season, as he started every game at safety alongside Jaquan Brisker, garnering 73 tackles and a team-high six interceptions (plus five pass breakups). Two of his interceptions ended up being absolutely crucial, with one coming on the final play of the game at Wisconsin to seal the season-opening road win in Madison and the other coming late in the game at Maryland for a game-sealing pick-six.
What To Expect In 2022
Look for Ji’Ayir to be the de-facto leader of the secondary and a co-leader of the defense as a whole with PJ Mustipher manning the fort up front on the defensive line. Expect him to once again be the team leader in interceptions and to be a big help in run support. It cannot be overstated enough just how clutch it is to have him back for one more go-around before he heads off to the NFL. Speaking of which, expect him to boost his draft stock similar to what Brisker did last season and become coveted second round pick.