Kansas football: JB Brown emerging as star for Jayhawks defense

Kansas junior linebacker JB Brown (28) runs a play during Thursday's practice.
Kansas junior linebacker JB Brown (28) runs a play during Thursday's practice. /

JB Brown has been a key piece to the Kansas football linebacker core, which is one of the most talented units in the country.

The Kansas Jayhawks football team reeled in an exceptional transfer class this past offseason. They received commitments from players who previously played at Auburn (Dylan Brooks), Wisconsin (Logan Brown), and LSU (Damarius McGhee). However, one of the most impactful additions has been Bowling Green State transfer JB Brown.

Coming out of high school, the Hughes, Arkansas native did not have many schools looking at him. According to 247 Sports, Bowling Green was the only team to offer him a scholarship. After all was said and done, offering the 2-star linebacker turned out to be a great move.

Brown did not miss any of the 30 games the Falcons played during his three-year stint there. He went from being a special teams player as a freshman to a full-time starter by his junior year. During his career at BGSU, he recorded 88 total tackles (5.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.

Despite entering a group with much more talent than his previous school, Brown has gotten acclimated to the city of Lawrence quickly. The Kansas football coaching staff gave him high praise throughout fall camp, and for good reason. He appears to be in for a career season.

Brown has progressively become better with each game he’s played. Here are his PFF grades and stats from Week 1-3:

  • vs. Missouri State: 26 of 50 snaps played, 58.6 defense grade
  • vs. Illinois: 58 of 60 snaps played, 70.3 defense grade
  • at Nevada: 42 of 61 snaps played, 87.5 defense grade

As you can see, Brown’s strong performances have given the Kansas coaches no choice but to put him on the field. His tackling has been effective, and his pass coverage grade against Nevada was a spectacular 91.9. He is the first player to react on defense and puts his body on the line each play.

His hard work is starting to be revealed on the gridiron. Brown leads the team with four tackles for loss, is second on the team with two pass breakups, and is third on the team with 13 total tackles. He registered his third career game with a sack against Illinois and forced his first fumble as a Jayhawk versus the Wolf Pack.

He entered the preseason second on the depth chart behind Taiwan Berryhill. Nothing changed the first two weeks, but the coaches officially gave him the nod as the starter ahead of the Nevada game. Berryhill has been set back by a lower-body injury, and Brown took advantage of his opportunity. He outsnapped him 42 to 18 on Saturday night.

In one of the nation’s most talented linebacker groups, Brown is yet another piece that coach Chris Simpson can utilize on his defense. Rich Miller is one of the best open-field tacklers in the Big 12, and former Ohio State Buckeye Craig Young has excelled at the ‘Hawk’ position since last season.

Only time will tell for what Brown is capable of. If he continues to perform at this level, he could be a consideration for All-Big 12 honors by the season’s close.

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