Linebacker Cam Brown, the 183rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has plenty of Penn State connections with his new Giants teammates.
Of course, Saquon Barkley set the school's rushing touchdown record and is second in school history in rushing yards. And before Grant Haley was an undrafted pickup by the Giants in 2018, he was a key piece of the defense in Happy Valley. New defensive lineman Austin Johnson was another staple of the Penn State defense as well.
But for Brown, who began as an edge rusher for Penn State before moving back into more of a coverage linebacker role, his biggest PSU connection to Big Blue comes in the form of defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who joined Joe Judge's staff this offseason after his tenure at Penn State.
"From the start honestly, I talked to Grant (Haley) and Saquon (Barkley) of course, Coach Spence, everybody on draft day congratulated me," Brown said on a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "Just reconnecting with them a little bit. With Say (Saquon) and Grant, it was more so I was just asking them for a little advice, just bouncing quick ideas off them real quick. But I'm pretty sure more communication will go on as long as this goes on, as long as we're away from each other.
"But honestly, Coach Spence, Coach Spence is my guy. Like I said, I was going to be recruited as a d-end, so we had a relationship, he came to see me all of the time during recruitment in high school. It's grown and blossomed. I feel like I became one of the guys he could trust on the defense and he's one of the guys that I trusted him to go to with problems or things like that. Our relationship is growing and I hope it continues to blossom."
Nicknamed "Coach Chaos," Spencer spent four seasons at Penn State coaching the Nittany Lions' defensive line.
Though Brown, who finished his college career with 198 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, transitioned from defensive end to linebacker very early on in his Penn State career, he still got to know Spencer very well.
"Coach Spence... we used to call him the ultimate motivator," said Brown. "He's going to get guys riled up, his coaching style is really energetic, he's out there with you, he's going to run around, he's going to crack jokes with you. He's going to yell at you, and he'll get on you hard, but you know it's coming from a loving place.
"With Coach Spence going through different drills, like certain days we had hunger drills where it was like each day you're working out on things coaches feel like we need this week. Like maybe tackling, maybe hand work, pass rush. With Coach Spence, he was always there to correct those pass rush moves and things like that. I hope and pray we can get some more cross-training there so I keep up that relationship with him."
Brown was a sixth-round pick by the Giants, but he was the first of four linebackers selected by the team on the third day of the draft. Big Blue clearly placed an emphasis on building linebacker depth, and Brown believes his versatility to play any linebacker spot on the field could go a long way for him, especially playing for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who features multiple looks, rather than a simple 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
"Honestly in college, I wasn't too concerned on doing one thing. I was doing whatever was needed, whatever (Penn State defensive coordinator/linebackers) Coach Pry asked me honestly, if that was jumping from positions -- from Will, to Sam, to back to Mike," Brown said.
"I feel like that versatility and that diversity in positions I've played has only helped me. I feel like I don't mind if people may have overlooked me, that's fine. I made my way to the NFL and I'm ready to show what I can do there and whatever the coaches want me to do there, pass rush, drop, coverage, whatever it may be, I'm ready to do it."