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Purdue Football: What Jamari Brown Brings to Purdue

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The tall, long armed Kentucky cornerback is an important piece for Purdue both short and long term.

Toledo v Kentucky Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As most of you know already, Purdue added sophomore Kentucky cornerback transfer Jamari Brown to the squad last week. Brown is a 6’1”, 200 pound (per Kentucky’s official roster) corner with three starts under his belt over the last two seasons (all starts as a freshman) and has appeared in 15 total games. Last season he went down with a hamstring injury and was limited to 4 appearances.

I’ve held off on writing about Brown because I wanted some time to do a little more research on what he brings to Purdue, and I must say, I’m intrigued.

Brown started against Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Tennessee as a freshman. Luckily, a copy of the Tennessee game was conveniently available on YouTube, and I was able to go through the game, take a looks at his overall game, cut out of few plays, and report back.

Zone Coverage

Like most corners, Jamri looked more comfortable playing zone coverage in this game. In the first half, the ball was thrown in his direction twice. He gave up 1 first down reception but then made a nice play on the ball to break up a 3rd down pass.

Brown somewhat hidden behind the score, but I’ve got a box around him for your viewing convenience.

This is a nice play. It’s 3rd and 3 and Tennessee is looking to complete something short in front of the zone for a first down. Brown does a nice job of holding his ground, and then breaking hard on the ball. The Tennessee receiver attempts to box him out of the play, but Brown uses his long arms to get into the catch area and prevent the completion.

Maaaaybe he gets there a hair early, but nothing is called, so he’s good.

Man Coverage

Tennessee changed quarterbacks at halftime, and for the first time in the game, Kentucky decided to lock Brown up in press man coverage without a safety. This is a tough ask for a freshman and UT goes after the matchup immediately.

Yes, he gives up the deep throw down the sidelines, but when you play press man, that’s going to happen on occasion. Overall, not bad coverage, but he fails to get his head around to make a play on the ball. He also needs to work on pressing the receiver closer to the sideline. He gives the Tennessee quarterback too much space to work with and he drops in a nice back shoulder throw.

These are all technique issues he can work on, but he’s in the right place, and the receiver makes a tough catch. Like I said, it happens sometimes when you play man.

Overall

Brown held up well in his only P5 start. The ball was thrown his direction 3 times and he gave up 2 completions and broke up a 3rd down pass.

On the surface, that doesn’t look great, but focus more on the “thrown his direction 3 times” part of the equation. Tennessee only went after the freshman once in man coverage, and although he didn’t make the play, he was in good position. That could be ineptitude on Tennessee’s part (which honestly, is probably part of it, because Tennessee) but Kentucky didn’t do much to hide Brown in coverage and he put up enough resistance for the quarterback to look other places on the field.

What Brown Brings to Purdue

First and foremost, he brings a big, athletic body to a secondary in desperate need of both bodies and athletes. Purdue has the potential to put two big bodies corners on the outside with Trice and Brown (Howard isn’t a small corner either). If Coach Brohm is telling the truth about wanting the defense to be more aggressive, those are the type of corners you need to match up against the bigger receivers in the Big10.

I still anticipate Purdue playing a ton of zone next year, which is fine, and Brown’s length is an asset when it comes to breaking up passes. In fact, that’s where he shined the most at Kentucky. As a freshman he contributed 7 PBUs (pass break ups) to the Wildcat cause. That was second on the team, despite starting only 3 games.

Jamari has all the physical tools you are looking for in a boundary corner. If he can put it all together this season, he has a chance to make an immediate impact at a position of need. Better yet, he will come in with sophomore eligibility, helping Purdue shore up the corner position long term.

I’ve got to give a shout out to coach English on this, because he’s been able to land 2 quality transfers to bolster the paper thin depth at corner. With Brown on board, I’m more comfortable with the Boilermaker’s top 5 options at corner. We’ll still need a couple of deep roster guys to step up, but that’s what every college football team needs once you get past 5 deep at a position.

Consider me cautiously optimistic.