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This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football: #12 DJ Brown, Safety

A role will be played - but which one?

notre dame football d.j.brown
D.J. Brown
Brendan McAlinden

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.

#12 DJ Brown, S

A product of St. John’s High School in Washington, DC, Brown enrolled as part of Notre Dame’s 2018 recruiting class. DJ was recruited as a cornerback and was the 49th-ranked player in his class at his position (487th overall) in the class of 2018. A former Virginia Cavaliers commit, Brown opted to challenge himself by committing to the Irish as part of a competitive defensive back class.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brown was moved to safety early in his career, taking a redshirt in 2018 to learn and cross-train before earning his first real minutes in 2019, backing up Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gliman in nine games.

Although Brown remained a reserve player in 2020, he saw an increase in the size of his role; he and Houston Griffith were the primary relievers for Kyle Hamilton and Shaun Crawford in the safety rotation and were frequently rotated in. Brown notably filled in for Hamilton against the North Carolina Tar Heels after the latter was ejected for targeting, helping the Irish hold a potent Heels offense scoreless in the second half. Brown saw action in 11 of Notre Dame’s games in 2020, recording eight tackles and breaking up two passes.

The Restaurant That Fits

Jimmy John’s

Jimmy John’s is usually a backup restaurant option due to its low prices, ubiquity and conventional fare, but when you do go for it you are often reminded of how good it can be. Given a chance to shine, it doesn’t disappoint.

This makes it a great analogue for Brown’s impressive backup play against North Carolina last season. It may not be the star, but it’s always good to know you have a Jimmy John’s in the neighborhood, and it’s always good to know you have a DJ Brown on your roster.

2021 Outlook

2021 could be a make-or-break year for Brown, with a starting safety spot opposite Kyle Hamilton up for the taking. While many see Houston Griffith as the favorite to earn that spot, the Irish coaches have already shown their trust in Brown - he earned slightly more backup snaps than Griffith in 2020 - and it would not be a surprise at all to see him opposite Hamilton on opening night in Tallahassee. Even if Griffith does earn the starting role, expect to see Brown rotating in heavily, continuing to quietly provide quality reserve play.

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