For former Penn State linebacker Cam Brown, it doesn’t matter that he was not drafted by the New York Giants until the sixth round.
“I feel like I don’t mind if people may have overlooked me, that’s fine,” Brown said.
Brown’s career with the Nittany Lions only drew more attention over time. He played in 51 games with 26 starts, including 24 starts in his final two seasons. He finished his career there with 199 tackles (99 solo), 5.0 sacks, 11 passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Brown recorded a career-best 72 tackles (28 solo) during his senior year and a career-high 41 unassisted stops in his junior season.
Brown’s time at Penn State helped groom him for the NFL and his modest nature seems to be a perfect fit forJoe Judge’s team.
“Penn State is known to be high standard, high character,” Brown said. “I feel like that transition will be very smooth for me. Even with Coach Judge, he’s a humble guy. He wants us to have humble but ambitious goals.”
Brown’s time at Penn State and his connections to the program will only help prepare him for his time in New York. Running back Saquon Barkley and cornerback Grant Haley are his former teammates.
“From the start honestly, I talked to Grant (Haley) and Saquon (Barkley) of course, Coach Spencer, everybody on draft day congratulated me. Just reconnecting with them a little bit,” Brown said. “With Say (Saquon) and Grant, it was more so I was just asking them for a little advice, just bouncing quick ideas off them real quick.”
But Brown’s connection to Sean Spencer, the Nittany Lions’ defensive line coach during Brown’s four collegiate seasons who now holds the same position with the Giants, is perhaps the most important.
“I was going to be recruited as a d-end, so we had a relationship, he came to see me all of the time during recruitment in high school,” Brown said. “I feel like I became one of the guys he could trust on the defense and he’s one of the guys that I trusted him to go to with problems or things like that. Our relationship is growing and I hope it continues to blossom.”
Because of Brown’s four overlapping years at Penn State with Coach Spencer, Brown is used to his work ethic and style of coaching.
“We used to call him the ultimate motivator,” Brown said. “He’s going to get guys riled up, his coaching style is really energetic, he’s out there with you, he’s going to run around, he’s going to crack jokes with you. He’s going to yell at you, and he’ll get on you hard, but you know it’s coming from a loving place.
“I hope and pray we can get some more cross-training there so I keep up that relationship with him.”
The Giants have made their emphasis on versatility known throughout the 2020 draft process, particularly with the whispers surrounding offensive lineman Shane Lemieux’s ability to potentially play center. Coach Spencer helped Brown develop and hone his athleticism in ways that will help him be of more value to the Giants.
For example, Brown was recruited as a defensive end but he made the transition to linebacker upon arriving at Penn State. If Brown gained more weight, he said that there would have been a spot open for him at defensive end. But Brown had already transitioned successfully to linebacker.
That mindset of helping wherever he is needed stuck with Brown throughout his college career.
“Honestly in college, I wasn’t too concerned on doing one thing,” Brown said. “I was doing whatever was needed, whatever (Penn State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers) Coach Pry asked me honestly, if that was jumping from positions — from Will, to Sam, to back to Mike, honestly for me, I feel like that versatility and that diversity in positions I’ve played has only helped me.”
Brown detailed the different roles he played while at Penn State. He said that he played boundary backer his freshman year, played the SAM and WILL positions sophomore year and bounced between SAM and MIKE during his junior season.
“I feel like, like I said the versatility in all the positions I’ve played have helped me a tremendous amount,” Brown said. “At middle linebacker, sometimes you’ve got to guard running backs, you’ve got to guard tight ends. The outside, sometimes you’ve got to set up in the slot. I feel like with the spread offense that’s coming to the NFL and all these multiple weapons and big tight ends that everybody is using, I feel like I’ll be able to match up very well against them.”
In addition to the various positions Brown played on defense, he also played a lot of special teams. He started during his freshman year when he played kickoff, kick return, punt, punt return and developed from there.
“I was getting my feet wet, trying to get the experience, trying to understand the flow of the game,” Brown said. “Just going against different players. I mean every game at kickoff you really get to size people up. The game always starts and ends with a kick, so it’s kind of what I got used to.”
Because of his experience wearing many hats, Brown is excited to be able to help the Giants in any way that he can.
“I made my way to the NFL,” Brown said. “And I’m ready to show what I can do there and whatever the coaches want me to do there, pass rush, drop, coverage, whatever it may be, I’m ready to do it.”