Ji’Ayir Brown, Tyler Warren Named Among Top College Football ‘Freaks’

It’s college football freak SZN, folks.

The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman annually releases a list of the top athletic “freaks” in college football. This year, Feldman has two Nittany Lions — safety Ji’Ayir Brown and tight end Tyler Warren — among the top 100 players who demonstrate unique physical abilities.

Brown lands at No. 69 in his first appearance on the annual list. Feldman points to Brown’s “elite quickness” and impressive strength as reasons for this selection.

“The Nittany Lions always have some Freaks, and Brown, one of the Big Ten’s best defenders, is their top one this season,” Feldman wrote. “The 5-11, 208-pounder has elite quickness, clocking a 3.99 pro shuttle time this offseason. He also ran a 4.44 40 and bench pressed 370 to go with a 345-pound power clean.”

Brown filled up the stat sheet for Penn State this past season as one of the team’s best players. He posted 73 tackles, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and tied the NCAA lead with six interceptions.

Meanwhile, Warren slotted in at No. 89 in Feldman’s rankings. Warren, who frequently took snaps out of a wildcat formation for Mike Yurcich’s offense, has impressive workout numbers that stand out to Feldman.

“A former high school basketball standout, the 6-6, 256-pound Warren, like many of his predecessors in that Penn State tight end room, can really elevate,” Feldman wrote. “This offseason he vertical-jumped 35 inches. Warren (five catches, 61 yards and one touchdown in 2021) power-cleaned 365 pounds, bench pressed 350 and back-squatted 605.”

Those stats Feldman listed don’t include Warren’s numbers on the ground. Warren found the end zone twice from the wildcat formation, as he served as a weapon for the Nittany Lions near the goal line.

A player with Penn State ties earned high praise from Feldman, too. Former Nittany Lion tight end Zack Kuntz is ranked all the way up at No. 11. The now-Old Dominion tight end had a breakout season in 2021 to the tune of 73 receptions for 692 yards and five touchdowns en route to earning first-team All-Conference USA honors.

Feldman raved about Kuntz’s “eye-popping blend” of size and athleticism, as well as his explosiveness.

Last year, former Penn State football stars Jaquan Brisker and Brandon Smith were some of college football’s top freaks. Now, both Brisker and Smith are getting ready for their rookie seasons in the NFL with the Bears and Panthers, respectively.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

After a four-year career with Onward State, Gabe is now a college graduate and off to the real world. He shockingly served as the blog’s managing editor during the 2022-23 school year and covered football for much of his Onward State tenure, including trips to the Outback Bowl and Rose Bowl. For any professional inquiries, please email Gabe at [email protected]. You can still see his bad sports takes on Twitter at @gabeangieri.

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