As the Akron Zips finished their most successful season (5-7 overall) since 2008 under head coach Terry Bowden, the team is poised to make some noise come 2014. Akron finished their season with three-straight victories and finished with a 4-4 conference record. The Zips have playmakers on both sides of the ball entering the 2014 season and their defensive leader, linebacker Jatavis Brown, could be one of the league’s most dominant players next season.
Brown will anchor a defense that can make some noise next year in the MAC. Under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Chuck Amato, the Zips were much improved defensively surrendering 28.6 points per game. In the “pass happy” MAC, the Zips were solid in the secondary giving up 232.9 passing yards per game. Akron was very opportunistic as well, as the Zips created 19 turnovers and played with emotion and heart.
As a sophomore who weighs 212 pounds, Brown is a rare combination of strength and speed. He emerged as the team’s leader in the middle of the season with his 15-tackle performance on the road against the Northern Illinois Huskies. Brown is very physical at the point of attack and can roam sideline to sideline to make plays. Brown was instrumental in the Zips registering 26 sacks through 12 games.
Brown finished the 2013 season registering a team leading 107 total tackles (8.97 tackles per game) with 57 of them solo. He added 6.5 tackles for loss and had two sacks to end his 2013 campaign with MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Zips 31-29 victory over the Toledo Rockets.
The Zips have made huge strides in Bowden’s second season, and the team can look to their defensive leader to carry them to a possible 2014 bowl appearance.