#97 DeAngelo Brown
Class: RS Senior
Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Savannah, GA
Thoughts: DeAngelo Brown wasn’t plastered on a ton of promotional material before last season, but he finally got some love from the media (voted 2nd-Team All-ACC) and fans alike after flying under the radar previously, and it was well deserved. Even it seems like he’s been here 6 or 7 years many tend to forget that Brown just earned that starting role at Nose Tackle in 2015 after rotating with Pio the year prior. While I could potentially get on board with a few different viewpoints on the matter I think I’ve made it fairly well known that, in my opinion, the nose tackle is the single most important position in the 3-4 defense, and typically the least appreciated. If your nose tackle can’t take on a double team, stop the run up the gut, or at a minimum provide some pressure up the middle, it’s going to be a long year for the defensive line and front seven in general. Luckily for Louisville, Brown does all three of those things… very well.
The beauty in the Grantham defense is that when your line plays well it frees up the second level to create pressure, and that’s exactly what they did last year. Louisville not only fielded another Top 25 defense for the SIXTH straight season, but a Top 15 rushing defense that finished tied for 9th in the country in sacks. The part that isn’t all that surprising is that when you break down those sack statistics; almost 70% came from the linebacker position, and although it may seem counter intuitive that equates to a damn good defensive line. (So good in fact, one of them was the number 12 pick in the NFL draft) See, with DeAngelo constantly drawing both the center and the guard, and Rankins usually seeing the other guard cheat over to try and help the poor tackle that’s blocking him, you had one lone lineman on Pio and either a running back or even worse, no one, to block a charging Fields, Trevon Young or Keith Kelsey. That plan typically didn’t work out so well for the lineman or the opposing QB, who the Cards sacked 38 times last year, following up on the 41 sacks from a season before. (I’ll hit on the linebackers success a little more in the days to come) With Rankins and Pio both gone DeAngelo will have to play an even bigger role in 2016 to help maintain that defensive presence along the line, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Without the support of two experienced seniors on each side of Brown the line may regress some in terms of pressure and stopping the run, but his play will make it slightly less painful.
Back in January, when DeAngelo announced he was returning for his final year of eligibility, a question was asked about how the Cards get over the hump in beating both Clemson and Florida St and his answer was very direct. It starts in the weight room. If you’ve been following DeAngelo over his career you already know he’s a beast in the gym, but the last few months he’s seemed to up the ante. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find Brown throwing up a max bench press of 510lb, (not a typo) or a video of him doing 12 reps with 135lb dumbbells while a head-shaking Brandon Radcliff looks on in amazement. There is no denying his strength and yes, those numbers are insane, but he also knows just as well as we do that strength alone won’t win ballgames and that weight room is a major factor in both conditioning and building team depth. To win a title, you need to win the ACC. To win the ACC you need to win the division, and to win the division you have to beat Clemson and Florida State. That challenge started back in January as soon as the last piece of confetti hit the ground in the Music City Bowl. Brown is back, and it just so happens that he brought some friends with him (JHC, Kelsey, and Fields) to lead another stellar defense, who are seriously looking to take home more hardware than just a bowl game win in 2016. Something tells me Jurich won’t hesitate to expand the trophy case if need be.
Sweet Tweet: DeAngelo retweeted this video back on February 1st , but rather than embedding that retweet I just tracked down the original video thus preventing you from watching it on a much smaller scale, because frankly, I’m just that nice of a guy. Grab ya popcorn.