Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2011.
So far, we've covered 4 such players:
The series rolls on with another defender and this one is a rarity from the state of Texas, where the Irish haven't typically pulled much talent from in recent years.
The Irish will have a plethora of young defensive backs vying for playing time this spring and summer, and this soon-to-be sophomore should be in the thick of things.
More after the jump.
CB Jalen Brown
Hometown: Irving, Texas
Height: 6'0" 1/2
ESPN: No. 27 CB, No. 87 Texas, Grade: 78
Scout: No. 52 CB
247: Rating: 87
Need at Position: High to Very High
Expected Spot on the 2012 Depth Chart: Third-String
Due to the losses of Robert Blanton and Gary Gray, the corner position has a lack of depth that will precipitate Jalen Brown almost assuredly being in the two-deep early in the spring. However, how long he stays there may be another matter altogether.
He certainly will have an uphill battle to climb as the three other corners on the current roster have either played a decent amount already (Wood & Jackson) or seen a lot of time on special teams (J. Atkinson).
Brown is the only one of the group who hasn't touched the field yet in his short career.
Also, it's no secret that Brown wasn't a heralded recruit but the coaching staff thought he was a steal out of Texas (where he had offers from A&M, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, among others) who brings great size to the secondary.
Here are Kelly's thoughts on him from last year's signing day press conference:
"Our next player, Jalen Brown out of Irving, MacArthur High School. Couple of things to point out here. 6'1". Really long. We love his length at the corner position. Especially at 6'1". We believe he's the guy that's just going to continue to develop and grow and be stronger. He's a 10.8 100 guy right now. And he really has not engaged in the weight room yet.
So a couple of things that are unique. We believe that this guy is destined for great things. And if you want to put a tag on anybody in a class, here's a steal in our opinion. 6'1" out of a great high school in Texas. Great competition. Kind of flew under the radar a little bit for us. Kerry Cooks did a great job recruiting him, getting him to Notre Dame. We're really excited about this young man.
You can see him playing the wide field here. His ability to tackle in space, plays very physical as he gets to the point of contact. Again, he can come up on you. He can shed blocks.
And, again, I'd like to point out again, here's a young man that will fit very well in our two deep coverage looks. And again the things that we're looking for in those two deep coverage looks. He's got to tackle and play physical and certainly a guy that has to have the ability to go get the football. He certainly does that. He's a 10.8 guy. See on the block, scoop and score. And the competition he's playing against is very, very good in Texas."
In effect Brown is going to be fighting two battles: One against the current players he is familiar with as well as another with the incoming crop of freshmen that will include Ronald Darby, Tee Shepard, and likely another recruit---the latter group talented enough to possibly leapfrog anyone on the roster.
It will not be easy to find playing time for Brown.
Ultimately, I think Brown settles into a third-string role at corner and hopefully a dynamic role on special teams. He's very unlikely to start or see significant minutes, and the duo of Darby-Shepard coming to town likely means one of the four current roster corners are moving out of the two-deep.
If the Irish are able to land New Jersey corner Yuri Wright in this class, the coaching staff might even think about moving Brown to safety---especially if Nick Baratti moves to linebacker or quarterback, as some have speculated.
Brown has the proto-typical height that Diaco likes out of his corners, but he's also the heaviest corner on the entire team right now and an inch and a half, plus 22 pounds bigger than fellow freshman safety Eilar Hardy.
Lastly, let's not forget the positive things Michael Floyd had to say about Jalen Brown, who faced him all season on the scout team. If there ever was a good indicator of someone improving and getting better, playing against and receiving praise from Floyd would be one area to trust.
Perhaps that amount of practice for Brown against an All-American gives him the confidence and technique to see the field quite a bit in 2012.