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Playing Or Not, Journey Brown Remains Key Piece Of Penn State’s Brotherhood

Update, November 11: Journey Brown has officially retired from football after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare heart condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.

Nonetheless, he’ll remain a constant leader among the Nittany Lions. As long as he’s on the sideline, Penn State’s brotherhood will remain as strong as ever.

Original Story: “Brotherhood” was a common theme this week when Penn State football teammates talked about Journey Brown.

A team should be a cohesive unit whose members are behind each other at all times when facing any obstacle. In this case, that obstacle happens to be Brown’s undisclosed medical condition that could sideline him for the 2020 season. The redshirt junior was slated to be the starting running back for a Penn State team that is ranked No. 8 entering its week one matchup against Indiana.

For now, though, Brown won’t play against the Hoosiers. His teammates weren’t short for words when discussing him.

“He’s my brother for life,” Pat Freiermuth said.

“We all love Journey. He’s like a brother to all of us,” Jordan Stout added.

Junior linebacker Jesse Luketa got to know Brown before they became teammates at Penn State while playing high school football in western Pennsylvania.

“Seeing him down right now, it hurts,” Luketa said. “But he is continuing to bring that positive mindset every single day on and off the field.”

Stout added that even though Brown may not be physically playing this fall, his leadership and spirt will still play a role for everyone on the team.

Without Brown, Penn State’s running back room is comprised of two sophomores in Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, and two freshmen, in Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee. Even if he doesn’t play a snap this year, Brown will be a key guide for the young group.

“I think [Brown has] done a great job just kind of being their big brother, and, you know, just helping them out,” Freiermuth said.

Again, the brotherhood created by Brown presents itself in his own position group. Fans should still have plenty of confidence in the running game entering this season, as evidenced by the amount of leadership and support Brown has given to the young running back crew.

“Journey’s been great in practice, great in meeting rooms, and I know he’ll continue to do that,” head coach James Franklin said Tuesday. “I’m a big believer that his experiences throughout his entire life equip him with the necessary tools to battle this situation. I know he’s gonna handle this thing like he handles everything else, doing it in a first-class way, staying positive and focusing on the blessings.

“We don’t know what the future holds yet. But I do know he’s got 120 brothers that love and support him. He’s a guy that’s universally loved by his coaches, teammates, and staff,” Franklin added.

Although there’s no public diagnosis for Brown, the team’s first official depth chart has confirmed Cain will start at running back for the Nittany Lions this weekend.

Cain played in 10 out of the Nittany Lions 13 total games last season and produced 443 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 84 attempts. He will surely be seeing the bulk of the carries this year, along with fellow sophomore Ford. Both of these backs will also be due for an uptick in pass-catching work as well, as neither eclipsed 10 total catches on the season last year.

Although Brown’s future remains cloudy, he appeared on in good spirits on social media Tuesday night, adding he’s excited to be back with the team soon.

“The LawnBoyz are gonna come out and show out and I cannot wait to get back on the field with them and my team,” Brown said.

With the first game inching closer and closer, the outlook remains bright for Penn State football in 2020. The Nittany Lions will return to action against Indiana this Saturday, October 24. That contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and be broadcast on FS1.

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About the Author

Matt Rudisill

Matt is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from a little town called Parkesburg in Chester County, PA. He loves all things Phillies and Steelers (don't ask), manages seven fantasy football teams, and listens to the Pat McAfee Show podcast daily. He is an elite wiffleball pitcher and is not afraid to back up that claim. Follow Matt on twitter @mrudy26 for Phillies rants and some other random thoughts!

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