As a junior, he was a starter, but FS Kendrick Lewis ran the show in the defensive backfield.
Now, as his senior season approaches, it's Brown's turn, along with senior CB Jeremy McGee, to take the reins of leadership on the back end of the Rebel defense.
It's a role the hard-hitting Brown is a little reluctant with, but willing to tackle, pardon the pun.
"All our guys are taking on different roles. Marcus (Temple), Jeremy (McGee) and Fon (Ingram) are moving up to starter status," he explained. "They have had to turn it up a lot and they've done that.
"I'm going to have to take on a different role as well. I'm not real vocal, but I am going to have to be more vocal and be more of a leader. It's what seniors do. I'm not totally comfortable with that - it's not me, really - but it's a necessary part of being a senior."
Johnny has faith in the Rebel secondary.
"We started spring kind of rough, but we got better toward the end. When you keep improving, it shows me we have people who really care about it and that's important," Brown stated. "I like the direction we are going back there. I believe in all those guys because they have ability and they focus on getting better every day.
"We also have some younger, or new, guys who are getting better and better by the minute. (S) Damien Jackson came in here ready to compete. He will help us a lot. (CB) Charles (Sawyer) is going to be a player. You can see it in him. And there are others with good potential who are developing. We are developing some depth back there and that's good to know."
Johnny is aware the Reb defense, being more experienced, will have to be the team's bell cow while the young offense develops.
"It's only natural. We have the most maturity and playing time on our side of the ball, so we have to take care of things while they get some experience," he noted. "I'm not saying they aren't going to get the job done - I believe they will - but we are the older guys and we have to come out of the gate strong for the team to succeed the way we want it to.
"I will tell you this - we dominated them at the beginning of spring, but at the end of spring we were no longer dominating. That's when it's fun - when both sides are competing and both sides are getting better."
Brown also knows there is a benefit to playing behind a front seven that is potentially very strong.
"It will only make us better and help us with our jobs. I think we have the best DL in the country, hands down. Every DB wants that. It helps us clean things up quicker, or not have to clean up anything at all," said Johnny. "They are hungry, they take coaching well and they are talented. That's a good combination."
For his part, J.B. is doing the standard stuff in the offseason.
"I'm trying to get faster and more physical. I'm doing a lot of agility drills and competing in our drills that Coach (Don) Decker sets up for us," Brown stated. "He's constantly changing things up so we don't get bored and come in ready to compete at something every day. It's fun."
Johnny Brown has shifted gears a couple of times in his Rebel career.
He will again.