Outside linebacker Cam Brown contributed 33 tackles as a freshman last year.

Penn State’s Cam Brown carries on in face of tragedy, Koa Farmer embraces his role, and more

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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Friday, April 21. Let’s get started.

Cam Brown, forever inspired

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times wrote about Penn State outside linebacker Cam Brown, who lost four people close to him in less than two years.

First, Pete Warren, who helped raise Brown in Maryland, died in October 2014 of esophageal cancer. Then in November 2015, one of Brown’s mentors, a former college defensive back named Siafa Lavala, passed away. Eight months later, in July 2016, Brown lost a friend, Andrew Dantzler, as well as his grandfather.

Brown, who was pressed into service as a freshman last year when injuries ravaged the linebacker corps, figures to be in the mix again this fall. He told McGonigal that he draws inspiration from the four close to him who died:

“I look back and realize that I’ve come so far. These are the people that pushed me and helped me get here. How would they feel if I stopped playing or gave this all up? I can’t give up. I just can’t.”

Brown contributed 33 tackles last year, as well as a blocked punt in the upset of Ohio State. This year, coach James Franklin said (per McGonigal):

“He had one of the better offseasons, from the end of the Rose Bowl to the beginning of spring ball. He gained experience on the field last year before he was probably ready, and he was able to have a great offseason. Putting it all together in fall camp is really the next step for him.”

Koa comes to the fore

Koa Farmer, who has switched from safety to linebacker not once but twice since arriving at Penn State from his California home, seems to have found a home as the strong-side ’backer.

The 6-foot-1 redshirt junior weighs 235 pounds — 13 more than last year, according to Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call. And Farmer has embraced his role to the point he now looms as a starter, ahead of Brown and others.

As Franklin said:

“We had a lot of conversations and arguments with Koa about, this is where I felt like, since he got here, was the right (position) for him. But we weren’t going to force him there. He has been fighting genetics for a long time.”

Farmer made the permanent move to linebacker early last season and wound up starting two games. The second was the Rose Bowl, played 10 minutes from his hometown of Sherman Oaks. He has made an impression on his teammates this spring. Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda’s take:

“Koa has really grown into the position. It’s not necessarily easy going from safety to linebacker. He’s really understanding defense at the ‘Sam’ position. He’s really coming into his own, putting it together and starting to be consistent.”

Marketing dude gone wild

When Franklin announced Wednesday that he was inviting media members to field punts or kickoffs at halftime of Saturday’s Blue-White Game, it might have appeared to some to be a light-hearted gesture.

Andrew Callahan of Lions247.com discovered otherwise upon hearing the comments of Brad Keen, Penn State’s assistant athletic director for marketing, on Thursday night’s coaches radio show.

As Callahan described in a series of tweets:

If that has ever been said or written, it is news to the caretaker of this space. It has been reported that the Lions have struggled in the return game, and that is true. Their last punt-return touchdown came in 2008, their last kickoff-return TD in 2011.



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