But Auburn’s defensive line hasn’t missed a beat with Brown stepping in as a starting defensive tackle.
“I have seen him improve tremendously,” senior safety Tray Matthews said. “He’s a great young leader. He’s huge. He can control the A-gap, B-gap. He’s just a really good player and he still has a lot to learn. That’s kind of scary.”
Brown has 20 tackles through six games, is tied for second on the team with 5.0 tackles-for-loss and has 2.0 sacks. He’s part of a unit that’s third in the SEC and 13th nationally in total defense and third in the SEC and sixth nationally in scoring defense.
“I think we're doing very good,” Brown said. “We're playing very good assignment ball right now. Every week we just aim to get better and better.”
Brown played in all 13 games as a true freshman last season, working at both defensive tackle and defensive end. That experience has paid off this season as he’s started all six games playing alongside fourth-year junior Dontavius Russell.
“He’s real athletic for his size. I’m impressed with him,” Russell said.
Brown is surprisingly agile for a 6-foot-5 and 316-pound lineman. But it’s his maturity that’s allowed him to contribute so early in his career. It’s very comparable to sophomore defensive end Marlon Davidson, who arrived at Auburn with Brown in the class of 2016.
“Oh yeah, he’s grown up. He’s grown up a lot,” senior linebacker Tre’ Williams said. “That comes with a lot of leadership, and you can tell he’s trying to become great.”
Brown has received almost universal praise for his play during the first half of the season, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. He still sees plenty of areas for improvement.
“I think I've had a decent season,” he said. “There's always room to correct errors and focus on technique and things.”
No. 10 Auburn plays LSU in Tiger Stadium Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. Auburn hasn’t won at LSU since 1999.
“That's definitely something I want to change,” Brown said. “I feel like if we change that Saturday, we become a big part of history.”