Redshirt junior defensive end and Tuscaloosa native Torrence Brown wants a shot at his hometown team.
“Me and my teammates, we joke around about it. But that’s actually really one of my goals,” Brown said at media day in Beaver Stadium. “I really wanna see Alabama in the national championship or just [end up]playing them somehow, some way.”
James Franklin has repeatedly mentioned the 6-foot-3, 254-pounder as someone who will again see significant time on the edge alongside Shareef Miller and Ryan Buchholz this year.
“Torrence Brown has played a lot of football for us and is kinda the old, wiry vet. I think he’s gonna be very, very productive for us,” Franklin said.
With both starting jobs up for grabs, Brown and a talented group of younger defensive ends have impressed second-year defensive coordinator Brent Pry in their effort to create the conference’s premier top-down rotation.
“It’s a great competition. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the guys that are in the battle right there,” Pry said. “When you lose some guys like [Garrett] Sickels and [Evan] Schwan, it’s tough to replace. Torrence Brown, being the third wheel, played a bunch of snaps.”
Pry on defensive end: "We've got great candidates to have good end play." Mentions Shareef Miller, Ryan Buchholz, Torrence Brown first.
— Onward State (@OnwardState) August 5, 2017
After accumulating 44 tackles and two sacks over the last two seasons, Brown has effectively locked down one of those spots. Miller seems like a safe bet to nab the other, with Buchholz subbing in often. Brown recorded his first career touchdown last November against Indiana on a scoop and score to ice the game 45-31 in Bloomington.
“I’ve matured a lot as a player on and off the field,” Brown said. “I’ve just been working hard ever since I got here and I feel like I’ve improved a lot in all areas of my game.”
Brown primarily credits position coach Sean Spencer with facilitating his transformation from a raw three-star prospect to a potential All-Big Ten performer this fall.
“Coach’s Spencer’s always been there for me whenever I’ve needed him. We’ve had tough talks, good talks, he’s just been a good mentor to me — he and coach Pry,” Brown said.
When Franklin was hired late in the 2014 recruiting process, Brown and senior cornerback Christian Campbell, a Phenix City, Ala., standout, committed to the Nittany Lions on and right before national signing day without ever stepping foot on campus. They took their official visits to University Park together for the Blue-White Game that April.
“We knew about each other through the recruiting process,” Brown said. “We had heard each other’s name before — coming from Alabama, but we never actually met until we got up here for the spring game.”
Brown and Campbell are two of a whopping 12 three-star talents from the 2014 class who have exceeded expectations and played plenty of football for Franklin and his coaching staff. Trace McSorley, Jason Cabinda, Marcus Allen, Grant Haley, the list goes on; all bought in to Penn State’s charismatic coach in short order.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) August 4, 2017
Brown keeps in regular touch with a host of former Nittany Lion teammates, gleaning as much advice as he can from his older counterparts.
“Austin Johnson, we talk a lot. [Anthony] Zettel, Carl Nassib, Deion Barnes, I have a good relationship with all those guys that moved on to the next level. I feel like this ‘Wild Dog’ generation is a homegrown family.”