Jaquan Brisker took advantage of the additional year of eligibility allowed by the NCAA after the pandemic season and returned to Penn State. And he did it for one reason.
“The only factor was that we were going 0-5,” said the talented strong defenseman on Saturday during Nittany Lions media day. “I couldn’t leave on that note, especially with my name on it, and mostly I owe it to the fans and I owe it to my family and things like that.
“I couldn’t go 0-5. It was one of the worst records in Penn State history for a while. I knew what type of team we had when I came back, and I spoke to a few guys on the team. I spoke to my family and I knew it was the right decision. “
In fact, the Lions rallied from a 0-5 start by winning their last four games. But 4-5 is still unacceptable to players, being part of Penn State’s first losing season since 2004.
Brisker will do his best to make sure this doesn’t happen again and he has the talent to help it. In his second season on the program after transferring from Lackawanna College, Brisker was ranked No. 3 in National Security last year by Pro Football Focus, who plotted his game and concluded he had compiled a rate of tackles missed by 1.7%. He also won third-team All-Big Ten honors.
The 6-1, 200-pound Pittsburgh native was third on the team with 57 tackles and intercepted. In the 2021 preseason, he was named to the watchlists for three playoff honors: the Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (both for best defensive player) and the Jim Thorpe award (best defensive back. ).
“Sometimes I really don’t care,” he said of the award recognition, “but when it comes, it’s been earned just through all the hard work in the offseason and over. the pitch. So I can say I like it for that, but other than that, I just focus on always improving myself and always working on my job. “
Its versatility will help you: Brisker’s versatility will also help the Nittany Lions. He likes the ploys employed by defensive coordinator Brent Pry where he lines up in different places or gets blitzed.
“I would say it fits my style just because I like to be out of place,” he said. “Ever since I was in high school or in the midget league, I always played more than one position. So that’s fine with me because that’s what I like to do, I like to be around the ball, so that ‘This is where I am comfortable being around the ball. “
Brisker may have another shot at being around football outside of defense. Special teams coordinator Joe Lorig said he was “definitely in the mix” to be one of the Lions’ returning men.
“I love that the ball is in my hands and I feel like I’m a playmaker,” said Brisker. “I’ve always been a playmaker since I was little and I love to do that. Whether it’s a kick return, a punt return, an offense, whatever, I’m done. for that and I’m ready. “
Strong leader: Brisker’s willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team has made him a strong leader in the eyes of the coaching staff. Pry said his leadership qualities had “really impressed and surprised me to a certain extent”.
“He’s always been one of our best workers, but his consistency off the pitch, the maturity he’s showing right now, he’s speaking out, he holds the guys accountable,” said Pry. “I’m super excited for the role he’s taken and the growth he’s shown.”
Even with the Penn State players barely a week into training camp, Brisker and his fellow executives have made their presence known, whether it’s setting an example or being heard, taking young players aside to explain a play or concept in which they might have done the wrong thing.
This is important for Brisker, who said after the end of the 2020 season that the Nittany Lions have not played up to the standards set by head coach James Franklin and his team.
“It’s about having cohesive leaders and taking it day to day, following Coach Franklin’s standard,” he said. “It’s a positive attitude, a great work ethic, you have to be willing to sacrifice yourself and compete. These are its four core values. As long as we care about the four core values, we’ll be fine.”