Running back Journey Brown, Penn State’s leading rusher who ran for the most yards in a bowl game in school history last season, might have to sit out all of 2020 because of an undisclosed medical condition, the football program said late Monday.
“Journey Brown is being treated for a medical condition discovered during the off-season and will potentially miss the 2020 football season,” a program statement said. The story was first reported by Lions247.
Penn State head coach James Franklin is expected to comment Tuesday on Brown during his Zoom conference call with reporters.
Brown, a 5-foot-11, 217-pound redshirt junior, played the first eight games last season as part of a four-man rotation in the backfield but stood out in his final five contests when he rushed for 593 yards. His season was capped by a 202-yard performance in 16 carries in the Nittany Lions' victory over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, where he was named the game’s outstanding offensive player.
Brown concluded the season with 890 rushing yards, a 6.9-yard-per-carry average and 12 touchdowns, all best on the team.
The Meadville, Pa., native gave no indication anything was wrong when he met with reporters on Zoom during the Lions' virtual media days on Oct. 2. He talked about how he continued to carry a chip on his shoulder despite his breakout year in 2019.
“I always considered myself the underdog and had to prove people wrong,” he said. “So for me, I’m always hungry. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve done because me personally, I feel like I haven’t done nothing. What I did last year, I feel, was just a preview of kind of what I’m capable of. Just staying hungry and being humble is probably the best combination you have.”
A former PIAA high school sprint champion who broke the Class AA state record in the 100-meter dash once held by U.S. Olympian Leroy Burrell, Brown redshirted his freshman year when Saquon Barkley was the featured back, and then waited his turn behind Miles Sanders in 2018, carrying the ball just eight times.
The loss of Brown hurts but the Nittany Lions have four running backs — sophomores Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, and true freshmen Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee — looking to contribute in Brown’s absence.