Brown was on the sidelines, relegated to watching the Cardinals go 12-1 and win the Russell Athletic Bowl to cap the season.
"The longest I've ever had to sit out," said Brown, who suffered an Achilles injury in summer workouts last year and missed the season.
But the 6-foot, 319-pound Brown made his return this spring and is a major key for the U of L defense this fall. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has switched the U of L defensive scheme to a 3-4, putting importance on the guy in the middle of the defensive line.
"We did a lot of the same things as far as scheme wise last year," Brown said. "Some of the things are the same, but we just have to learn the terminology and a few little things.
"I feel like it's coming along for me. I think the spring really helped a lot."
Brown, who played in eight games as a freshman, said it's the "best feeling in the world" to be back on the field and healthy.
Defensive line coach L.D. Scott said Brown is a real "force" in the middle and is expected to be one of the leaders on the line.
"It's going good for me and I'm excited," Brown said. "It was tough watching those guys so out and compete every week and not being out there. So, I want to help out this year."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Brown had a good enough spring to get the nod to run with the first unit and has been solid in fall camp to this point. He's expected to start in the middle of the line with Sheldon Rankins and B.J. Dubose on the outside.
"DeAngelo is a guy that is very stout inside and a guy that has taken up a couple of guys on the double teams," Grantham said "He was coming off an injury from last year and you can see his improvement of movement skills from the spring. We have been excited about his progression."
Grantham said the U of L staff will try to "utilize the things he does well," to help the defense and that means playing him a lot and having him take on double teams.
"He's a big, strong guy," Grantham said. "He's worked hard and is developing into what we need there. If he continues to improve and play with the kind of passion he has, then he's going to be a really good player for us."