Inside Scoop: What Is WVU Getting With Maryland Transfer Bryce Brand?
Earlier this offseason, West Virginia added some depth and experience to its defense with the signing of Maryland transfer Bryce Brand. To get a full in-depth analysis of Brand and what he will bring to the Mountaineer defense, we caught up with Maryland insider Ahmed Ghafir of All Terrapins on Sports Illustrated.
Where did Brand lineup mostly at Maryland and what would you say his role was?
Ahmed: "His freshman season is when Brand showed the most promise during his time at Maryland. Lined up as the JACK linebacker, his physical presence and speed off the edge made it clear that’s where he could make the biggest impact. Brand saw success early and took advantage of the less athletic tackles he faced by leaning on his speed, so he’d be another player that can help bring pressure in the aggressive Mountaineer front seven."
What would you say his max potential/ceiling is?
Ahmed: "He has the chance to be an impact player as long as he can continue to work on his moves and hand placement. I noted that he did a good job of beating tackles that struggled with their lateral quickness because Brand’s pure athleticism can help him find consistent success. Brand struggled to disengage with his assignment to consistently contain the edge, which is when he had his drop in production going into his sophomore year. With more time off the edge, Brand could see a steady improvement in his final two years to become a bigger factor at linebacker."
Was playing time a likely major factor in his decision to transfer?
Ahmed: "It appears so. Maryland will likely move last year’s starter in Shaq Smith to inside linebacker as sophomore Durell Nchami likely slides into the starting lineup at the JACK. Brand had a chance to find himself in the two-deep in 2020 but could now make that impact at West Virginia."
In an expanded role at WVU, what kind of an impact can he have?
Ahmed: "If he can improve on disengaging with the tackles, then Brand will have every chance to become another key piece on the Mountaineer defense. He’s a downhill thumper that excels with his open-field tackling and in the aggressive front that West Virginia brings, I could see him closing his career on a high note."
What are some things that he does well and things that he needs to improve on?
Ahmed: "Reliable open-field tackler that brings athleticism outside. Does a good job of compensating for his smaller frame by being physical in run support. Once Brand is able to develop his pass-rush moves more, he’ll be a strong candidate to re-establish himself in a change of scenery."
My analysis on Brand:
For West Virginia's defense to really be successful, you have to have two guys that contain the edge in the run game and can be an impact pass rusher. When VanDarius Cowan went down with an injury last season, the Mountaineers lost the only player that fit the description of being an elite guy off the edge. Redshirt freshman Jared Bartlett has the skillset and the make-up of fitting into that role nicely but needs some time to develop before being thrusted into that starting spot.
Brand should have an immediate impact on the West Virginia defense and if he and Cowan can produce and stay healthy, the defensive front for the Mountaineers will be tough to stop. Guys like Darius and Dante Stills will benefit from having Brand on the field, which will open up gaps for them to shoot through and vise versa.
What kind of expectations do you have for Maryland transfer Bryce Brand? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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