EDITOR'S NOTE: Jordan Brown is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback from South Dakota State. He was a 2018 HERO Sports First Team All-American and a two-time All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team player. Brown is considered one of the top NFL Draft prospects coming out of the FCS and has competed in the Senior Bowl. He's now training for the NFL Combine.
This is Part 1 of a series of diaries Brown will do in an "as told by" format with HERO Sports senior FCS analyst Sam Herder. The series provides an inside look at what it's like for a prospect leading up to the draft.
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From Arizona to South Dakota
There's a drive within Jordan Brown. He doesn't need to dig too deep to find motivation or when he feels the need for an extra push. Nothing has come easy in his football career. And while he's accomplished a ton and is now looked at as an NFL Draft prospect, all of his success has been earned through hard work.
Like many stories of FCS players, it goes all the way back to being under-recruited. Brown was a record-breaking wide receiver at Paradise Valley High School in Arizona. But the Scottsdale native was told he was too slow to play at the next level.
Brown received just one Division 1 offer, and that was from South Dakota State thanks to linebackers coach Jimmy Rogers, an Arizona native himself.
Once in Brookings, Brown played receiver and cornerback his true freshman season before transitioning to defense full time. In his 51 career games played, Brown totaled 148 tackles, six tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, 35 passes defended and eight interceptions.
“Coming out of high school, I was very underrated I think and so I had a chip on my shoulder," Brown said. "I thought I could play receiver, but I made the move to corner and it was a tough transition. Coach (Dan) Jackson believed in me more than I believed in myself at times. He helped me through that. My junior year, something clicked for me where I got super confident and put some weight on. And my senior year I had the confidence to try and be the best cornerback in the FCS.”
That's exactly what he did as NFL scouts took notice. Brown received an invite to the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, electing to play in the latter. He's also invited to the NFL Combine in late February.
An FCS prospect is always going to face questions on his level of collegiate competition, which makes these invites so valuable for Brown. He overcame doubts coming into college and hopes to do the same at the next level.
Brown guarded former Jackrabbits players who went on to the NFL like wide receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert every day in practice. And this year, it was All-American sophomore Cade Johnson.
“That helped me tremendously," Brown said. "My first two years were very difficult going against Jake and Dallas. They would help me and tell me what they’re looking for in secondary players. I followed Jake everywhere on the practice field and that has helped me so much. Then guarding Cade Johnson in the slot this year has helped my coverage skills and being able to guard different body types.”
The Senior Bowl
SDSU's season ended in the national semifinals on Dec. 14. About 1.5 weeks later, Brown packed up and moved back to Scottsdale to hang out with family during the holidays and then begin training on Jan. 2. Later that month, he traveled to Mobile, Alabama, for a week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl game on Jan. 26.
“It was a blessing to be there," Brown said. "I was on the North team so I had Jon Gruden and the Raiders staff. It was a cool experience in that you get a sense of what it’s like to be a pro. You have to carry yourself as a pro because you have so many interviews."
Brown said he met with more than 20 NFL teams throughout the week. Most of those interviews contained the same type of questions – They'd ask about his background, his childhood and how he was brought up. Brown was asked how he would lead a team and his style of leading. And they asked what his best trait is as a player and what he thinks he needs to work on.
The interviews were part of a jam-packed six-day schedule that went from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Breakfast was followed by meetings at the convention center, which included a team meeting with Gruden, a special teams meeting and then position meetings for an hour to watch film from the previous practices and do some install on defense. An hour-long walkthrough was followed by lunch, then the teams practiced for 1.5 to two hours. After practice was dinner, then more meetings. The days ended with either interviews, psychological tests or things like signing autographs from 8:30-11 p.m.
The players stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Mobile. They roomed with someone in their position group and Brown stayed with Corey Ballentine out of Division 2 Washburn. Brown said he also made an instant bond with the FCS players there.
“Just seeing all the FCS guys there like Keelan (Doss), Khalen (Saunders) and Jimmy (Moreland) and guys like that. I didn't know them beforehand, but we had that FCS connection and we helped each other do well. It was pretty cool in that sense.”
Brown wrapped up the week with four total tackles in the Senior Bowl game, which tied for the second most on the North team.
“The game itself was the best part of the week," he said. "It was really good to go out there and play football again and wear the SDSU helmet again. And I played well I thought.”
The Next Step
Brown is back in Scottsdale now training for the Combine. His workouts are a combination of everything that gets tested there, from speed, explosiveness and strength. His No. 1 focus is on the 40-yard dash, although he believes his tape will show scouts his ability to cover multiple types of pass catchers.
Brown describes himself as a laid back guy who doesn't overthink things or let this whirlwind of a process get to his head. He doesn't worry about where he'll be drafted. But Brown does take the time every now and then to sit back and think about his journey and what's led him to this point.
“It’s a huge blessing. Not a lot of people get to this point. I sit back and realize that everything is right there in front of you. Honestly, everything is right in your hands. No one can run fast for you. No one can interview well for you. It’s all in your hands and that’s a good feeling to know it’s all on your back and you have to go out there and give it your all every day.”
NEXT: FCS Recruiting Central