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Penn State‘s Journey Brown was poised to follow Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders as the next great Nittany Lions’ running back, but a shocking development might cause him to miss the entire 2020 season.

Less than a week away from Penn State‘s season opener against Indiana, the school announced Brown has been diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition. Little is known about Brown’s health and his future with the team, but the loss would be a devastating one for the Nittany Lions’ offense.

Journey Brown is one of college football’s best backs

After Barkley and Sanders left State College for greener pastures, Penn State’s starting running back job was largely up for grabs. Head coach James Franklin has recruited extremely well at the position, so there were more than a few capable options gunning for the job in 2019.

Penn State employed a committee approach to start the season, but one man rose up above the rest. That man was Journey Brown.

Brown went off for 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Week 9 against Minnesota, and he never looked back. The sophomore recorded 100 or more rushing yards and at least one touchdown in four of the last five games of the season.

He finished off his breakout campaign with a historic Cotton Bowl performance against Memphis, going for a Penn State bowl record 202 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. His 12.6 yards per carry were also a school record for a bowl game.

Brown’s stellar finish to the 2019 season positioned him as one of the nation’s top running backs heading into 2020.

Brown could miss the entire season

Penn State is scheduled to kick off its 2020 campaign this Saturday against Indiana, but it looks as if they’ll be without their star running back. In fact, the Nittany Lions might be losing Brown for the entire season.

Lions247 reported Monday night that Brown has been diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition that could sideline him for the year. Penn State released a short statement to the outlet about Brown.

“Journey Brown is being treated for a medical condition discovered during the off-season and will potentially miss the 2020 football season,” Penn State said in the statement.

How will Penn State replace Brown?

If Brown is in fact out for the season, it’s a brutal blow to an offense that wants to establish the run early and often. Brown was just hitting his stride as a runner, and he was going to use this season to boost his NFL draft stock.

Penn State isn’t completely doomed without Brown, though. Franklin churns out running backs in Happy Valley, and this season is no different.

Sophomore Noah Cain will be first in line for the starting job. Cain rushed for 443 yards and eight touchdowns behind Brown last season, and he had two 100-yard games himself. Fellow sophomore Devyn Ford will see plenty of touches, too. He averaged 5.7 yards per tote last year in limited action.

Freshman Caziah Holmes also enters the fold as a four-star recruit out of Cocoa, Fla. The Nittany Lions are excited about Holmes’ potential, and now he’ll have a chance to show it in year one.

Losing Brown is devastating for the Penn State offense, but a committee approach behind a sturdy offensive line should still make the Nittany Lions one of the top rushing teams in the Big Ten.

All stats courtesy of Sports Reference