As the second night of the NFL draft picked up steam, it was clear that a few Penn State football players have the chance to be selected in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NFL draft.
Safety Ji’Ayir Brown was selected 87th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 3rd round of the 2023 NFL draft.
This is the second year in a row where the Penn State football team has produced a safety on day two of the NFL draft, as last year Jaquan Brisker was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft.
What those two players have in common is where they went to school before joining the Penn State football team. Both Brown and Brisker attended Lackawanna Community College. From JUCO to Happy Valley, and now to the NFL, it has been quite the journey for these players.
Brown had a terrific career at Penn State and this past season, he was able truly step up as a leader in the secondary. During his career in Happy Valley, Brown had 16 takeaways.
Most recently, during the 2022 season Brown accounted for 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, forced 2 fumbles, and had 4 interceptions. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz challenged Brown to not only showcase his ball skills but to also prove that he was a sound tackler. After reviewing those statistics I would say he certainly proved that point.
Replacing a guy like Brown will be very difficult for Penn State, but it was such an honor to watch his career unfold between the 2021 and 2022 seasons. This is a great locker room guy, someone who will do whatever the team needs to win and will find a way to make an impact as a rookie in the NFL.
I think this proves that even if your career starts in a junior college, never give up on your dreams as Brisker and Brown have proven.