Name: Zay Brown
Position: Strong Safety
Height/Weight: 6’0" / 180 lbs.
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Rating: Rivals, ESPN, 247: Three star
While not heavily recruited, Brown was the highest rated player on a 7-5 Clarke Central team that made it to the second round of the playoffs in Georgia’s 5A classification. Brown’s only offers coming out of high school were Wake Forest, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Charlotte and Georgia State. Wake and SC were the only power-five offers Brown had, though Georgia, NC State and Wisconsin did show interest. A participant in the Georgia rising seniors bowl, Brown officially committed to South Carolina last July.
Strengths: Often plays as an in-the-box safety, where he excels in being an enforcer in stopping the run. Does well when he can attack off the edge and cut off the perimeter to force ball carriers inside. Has good — not great — speed that allows him to make up ground in coverage and chase down ball carriers from behind. Adds value in the return game, where he sports good vision and shiftiness in the open field to make big plays. That same ability makes him dangerous after he’s intercepted a pass to convert a turnover into six points.
Weaknesses: Has a tendency to tackle up high and will sometimes look for the knockout hit rather than wrap up a secure tackle. When at the third level Brown will let the ball carrier come to him as opposed to attacking them head on. From the film, it didn’t seem like Brown played deep in coverage all too often but when he did he had trouble locating the ball and gave up the occasional big play.
Overall: Even with South Carolina losing three seniors at safety, Brown is very much a developmental prospect at safety but would have the potential to contribute on special teams as a gunner or kickoff coverage due to his physicality. By my estimation, with Brown’s struggles in coverage there’s a possibility he bulks up and moves to linebacker when it’s all said and done. Either way, don’t expect to see Brown in the starting lineup anytime soon.