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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 2 DJ Brown, fifth-year safety

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Measurements listed: 6 ft ⅜, 200 lbs.
2022-23 Eligibility: Brown, a year five veteran, has two seasons of eligibility left thanks to a universal pandemic waiver that increased that tally by one.
Depth Chart: Brown will compete with a classmate Houston Griffith and junior Ramon Henderson start along with Northwest Gear Brandon Joseph this autumn. Going into preseason training, Brown may have the slightest advantage over the other two.
Recruiting: The indecision prolonged Brown’s cycle and ultimately led to his downfall. The consensus three-star prospectus has long been tied to Virginia, but he didn’t pick up the tech paper in the early signing period. This led All-American cornerback Under Armor to reopen his set and ultimately choose the Irishman over Cal and the Northwest, with offers from Clemson, Ohio State and South Carolina.

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Brown spent 2018 as a cornerback on the bench, making just one appearance before moving to safety in 2019. Nevertheless, Brown worked mostly with special teams.

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In 2020, he found a place in the safe rotation by playing over 200 backup snaps. Kyle Hamilton. When Hamilton suffered a season-ending injury in mid-2021, Brown was the first replacement in the starting line-up, although he was quickly replaced by Henderson.

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For all intents and purposes, it was a demotion, but Brown stayed busy. When Henderson intercepted a pass in Virginia, he credited Brown for fixing his alignment before the side snap.

2018: 1 game.
2019: 9 games; 7 gear.
2020: 12 games, 1 start; 8 tackles with two breakdowns of gears.
2021: 12 games, 1 start; 42 tackles, one for a loss, three interceptions and four slips.


In five seasons, Brown is set to work under his third defensive coordinator and his first with NFL experience. Al Golden made it clear that he would bring some aspects of the NFL to Notre Dame, most notably in-game adjustments. According to Brown, other new wrinkles appear in the spring.

“I really like our disguise,” Brown said. “Our other defense, we would have some disguises, but (with) Coach Golden we have a lot more. Also, there are many more call variations, play cover two, cover three, some male reporting. We mix a lot.”

Some of this may be due to the fact that Golden has several experienced defenders in the form of Joseph, Griffith, Brown and, to a lesser extent, Henderson. He can trust them to look after the defensive lineup from the back line, as well as switch them to full-backs if necessary.

“Given the spring accolades and Griffith being named captain of the Blue-Gold Game, it seems like he will likely be at the top of the depth chart by Labor Day Eve, but Brown will see a lot of work.

“The Irish are not only interested in Hamilton’s running mate and his understudy, but they are not sure about the defender’s depth. About what else high-quality protection should be, the secondary has a lot of questions.

“With this kind of framing, Brown can be a famous commodity. Especially on that day against Sam Howell and an electrical attack in North Carolina, Brown supported.

“While Notre Dame is looking for a nickel back, consistent strong security means Hamilton can get closer to the line of scrimmage at times. Moving him from place to place will only harass opposing quarterbacks, and if Brown’s biggest contribution to creating this opportunity is not a luxury to be overlooked.

“Statistically, Brown will play more than at least 300 snaps and he will hit more than eight tackles, but the versatility he offers to the new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman may be the most valuable aspect of Brown in 2021. …

“After this season, Hamilton will go to the NFL, which will create an opportunity for both Brown and Griffith. Even if they have been training to run with Hamilton all these years, together they have to start from behind.

“Proof that (Brian) Kelly has long wanted a fourth quarterback, there is no younger player who is not breathing down Brown’s neck. It should start work in 2022 and then review it in 2023.”

For a man who threw three interceptions last season, Brown’s game is surprisingly unmemorable. Probably, this is good from the safety, an indicator he was not often beaten. But the best safes make so many games that it’s impossible to forget them.

It will most likely be Joseph this season, with his running partner the more consistent of the two guards, allowing the Northwest to pass on some free-range freedom. This could be a perfect fit for Brown considering his biggest criticism of his 2021 was that he wasn’t particularly prominent.

However, Henderson’s great length and sprinting speed give him a higher ceiling.

Either way, Brown has to play. Even as Henderson started the last four games last year, Brown played a lot. And, as noted in relation to the Henderson interception in Virginia, Brown influenced the game even when he was off the field.

RELATED READING: Not Having Kyle Hamilton Against North Carolina, ND Turns To DJ Brown Again
DJ Brown to add depth and experience to refurbished Notre Dame in 2022

If Joseph gets the season he’s looking for, he’ll likely move to the NFL after that season. Griffith will be out of line. This combination could see Brown return for a rare sixth year.

Sixth year players should not be accepted until they are announced in the winter. Notre Dame must be sure of the number of scholarships; Brown will have to want to live in South Bend for another 12 months.

But other than these hang-ups, there’s little reason not to want the three-year-old author to add a fourth season to these notes back in 2023. Apart from these veterans, the Irish are ill-prepared for security. Without Joseph and Griffith, only Henderson, the current junior, will remain in Notre Dame. Xavier Wattscurrent sophomore Justin Walters and Brown around next season, as well as eventual signers.

Watts is a converted linebacker who used to be a converted wide receiver. He’s skyrocketing up the learning curve, but his most notable asset is his physicality, not a trait that he’s sure to use securely at every click. Walters hasn’t had a chance to crack the rotation yet.

The class of 2023 has implemented two highly publicized safetys, but the Irishman would rather rely on the Brown-Henderson combo backed by Watts.

From Blake Groupe to Braden Lenzi, the off-season countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Group, kicker, transfer of the State of Arkansas
No. 99 Riley Mills, junior guard, player who now plays more in the end.

#98 Tyson Ford, early freshman, quarterback hired as a four-star endgame.
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore, quarterback, still “wide like a Volkswagen.”
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a young defender who tore his cruciate ligament in March.
#91 Josh Bryan Sophomore Kicker
#91 Aiden Gobaira, Freshman Early Enrollment Guard, Four-Star Recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defender, the German project is nearing completion.
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer Jr. Tight End, Likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Stace New Rookie Tight End
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, Jr. Tight End
#83 Jayden Thomas, Sophomore Receiver, Four-Star Former Rookie
#80 Kane Burrong, sophomore who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish strikers.
#78 Pat Coogan, sophomore at center, recovering from a meniscus injury.
No. 77 Tai Chan, offensive tackle starter, former four-star rookie.
No. 76 Joe Alt, Sophomore, Beginning Left Tackle
#75 Josh Lagg, year six, offensive lineman, likely starting right back.
#74 Billy Shrout, early enrolled forward freshman after foot surgery.
#73 Andrew Christophic, senior forward turned defenseman.
#72 Caleb Johnson Sophomore Offensive, Former Auburn Bail
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line mate.
No. 65 Michael Vinson, Long Bass, “Milk”
#65 Chris Smith Defensive Tackle Harvard Transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, an established four-star freshman forward.
No. 58 Ashton Craig New Freshman Center
#57 Jason Ademilola, fifth-year quarterback, after shoulder surgery.
#56 Joey Tanona, early-listed hitter with a concussion.
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior quarterback with heavy hands, and that’s good.
No. 55 Jarret Patterson, Year Five Offensive Linesman, Three Year Starting Center, Captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacy, senior quarterback, is now lighter and in the starting lineup.
#54 Blake Fisher Sophomore Freshman…


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