Player Spotlight: Jaquan Brisker
The Penn State defense looks a little different this season with new players stepping up into starting roles for the team.
Aside from the big change in the linebacker department, the secondary has made major changes. Senior safety Jaquan Brisker opened up to the press about the team filling in the gaps without key defensive players like defensive back Tariq Castro-Fields.
“At Penn State, it is a next man mentality, so those guys have stepped up a lot,” Brisker said. “They came in. Daequan Hardy has been having a great year. Marquis Wilson and those guys have been coming in, making plays [and] doing what the coaches ask.”
The secondary did come into effect in Penn State’s win against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday, but there are areas the team needs to improve on. Brisker talked about preventing the big momentum plays for opposing teams.
“I would say not letting anything deep,” Brisker said. “Just playing whatever defense we’re in at the time, doing our jobs and making sure we don’t allow anything deep—we shut down receivers on the other team.”
In a down year for the Nittany Lions, the turnovers have not been up to par with the amount they created last season. So far, the defense has only two interceptions to go along with four fumble recoveries: none for the senior safety. Brisker addressed the improvements necessary to get back on track.
“Honestly, just a step closer to an interception,” Brisker said. “When it comes to those plays, just make my plays, especially when the ball is thrown my way. Just make those plays because once that happens, sometimes I never see the ball again.”
With new additions to the roster, the staff decided to move Brisker from his original position of strong safety. He talked about his transition into his new role.
“I had to settle in just by learning everybody’s job, but first I had to do my job,” Brisker said. “So, once I knew my job, the rest was easy. From there on, I just played away from the framework and let my instincts take over.”
With the new change in position, that opened the door for junior Ji’Ayir Brown to step up for the Penn State defense. Brisker explained his mentorship to the new defensive back.
“Honestly, when he first came, I was just trying to get him into the playbook because I knew last year I needed to learn to play,” Brisker said. “But when I first came here, I needed to understand what Coach Banks wanted and things like that.”
With the season being cut short due to COVID-19, the supply of film to NFL scouts has taken a drop. To Brisker, the amount of film does not worry him.
“I feel like, just playing football, there’s so many people that want to be in our shoes,” Brisker said. “So, it was definitely worth it just playing out there on the field with my brothers.”
The Nittany Lions end their regular season on senior day, as the Michigan State Spartans come to town to try to reclaim the Land Grant Trophy. Kickoff is set for 3:30 on Saturday.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com.