The Akron defense, and specifically the linebackers, were much improved in 2013. We already discussed linebacker Justin March earlier in our top players list at No. 32 and Jatavis Brown is the second Zip linebacker to make our list. He was the leader of the Zips defense in 2013 and will be relied upon heavily in 2014 as well.
Jatavis did not play a major role for the Zips as a freshman finishing with just 18 tackles, but really hit his breakout season in his sophomore year and became a wrecking ball for the Zips. He led the team in tackles with 82 and also added 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Brown got stronger as the season went on averaging 9.4 tackles per game over his last game six games with both his sacks coming during that stretch. And it's no coincidence the Zips went 4-2 during that stretch. Brown's efforts earned him a well deserved spot on the 2013 All-MAC First Team. The way Brown finished down the stretch has to have the Zips feeling strongly about the linebacker heading into 2014.
If you want to take a look at some of Jatavis Brown's work in practice and also get a little dizzy, check out this cool look into Brown's helmet cam. (via @ZipsFBVideo)
The Zips have a chance to make some noise this season in the MAC and take that next step toward a bowl game and/or a MAC championship. More key pieces like Jatavis Brown will bring the Zips closer to the top tier of the MAC. If Brown continues to make strides in his junior season, you can expect him to be first team All-MAC again for the 2014 season and be in the race for the MAC defensive player of the year award.