Mean and lean to the extreme

There are a few places in town where you probably will not find junior linebacker Brooks Daniels. <br><br>You will not find him at a Weight Watchers clinic or an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

In fact, for three years now, Alabama coaches have been doing all they can do to keep his weight up, let alone put more on.

"Right now I'm at 205," Daniels said. "The coaches and I want me to be at 215."

Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Carl Torbush wants him to put on weight to improve his play at Alabama and in the future. "To play linebacker at the next level--and he is good enough to do that--he's going to have to gain weight," Torbush said.

With 11 stops to his credit, Daniels was Bama's leading tackler versus MTSU.

It's not like Daniels isn't trying. In fact, it's quite the opposite. He explained, "I'm eating like three big meals a day. I eat spaghetti, hamburgers and anything like that. I'm trying to put the weight on, I am. But the way I see it, I'm doing what I need to be doing even if I am only at 205-pounds."

Fair enough.

Daniels is the Tide's top returning linebacker this season, after finishing 2001 with 102 tackles as a starter in every game. Defensive records were first recorded in 1970 and since that time only one other sophomore, Woodrow Lowe, has compiled 100 or more tackles in a season. Lowe had a school-record 134 stops in 1973.

Last Saturday, Daniels logged 11 tackles, three of those tackles for lost yards. Daniels not only leads the Tide with the most tackles after the first week of the season, but is also among the best in the SEC. Earlier this season Daniels was named to the pre-season All-SEC list with three other Alabama teammates.

Torbush talked about his all-star candidate. "Brooks handles his pads well. He plays with great leverage. Because of his leverage and knowing exactly when to strike, very seldom does he get the worst end of the deal--even when he's going against a 280-pound lineman.

"He's got the leverage to get up under (blockers') pads and get them off of him."

"I'm going to try to," Daniels said, when asked if he was going to lead the SEC this year in tackles. "It feels pretty good to be among the leaders right now, but it was just a couple of plays and we're going to have to do better than we did [last Saturday]. We have to get ready to play this team and I have to play better than I did last week- we all do. I'm going to try my best.

"If God keeps me healthy hopefully I can be a leader."

Daniels (#18) talks with Freddie Roach (#8) as the two leave the practice field. This season Daniels has assumed more of a leadership role on the team.

Daniels established leadership earlier in his career. In 2001, Saleem Rasheed and Daniels each finished the season with 100-plus tackles. It marked the first time that had been done since 1978 when Marty Lyons and Barry Krauss both finished with 100-plus tackles on the season.

"There is no doubt that he's taken over some of the leadership on defense," Torbush related. "He's very much a leader on the field. He's more talkative, he's more excitable. Brooks is a good practice guy.

"When we line up, if Freddie (Roach) or Derrick (Pope) has a problem, he'll get us lined up right."

In his post-season start against Iowa State in the Independence Bowl, Daniels turned in eight tackles. He had seven, double-figure tackle games, including 16 tackles against Ole Miss that ties his career-high. Daniels also had one stop behind the line for one yard, one sack, three pass break-ups and five quarterback pressures last season.

Daniels averaged 11.5 tackles a game in the last six games in 2001. He was awarded the "Woodrow Lowe Most Improved Linebacker" and the "Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter" awards this past spring by the coaching staff.

Daniels is an outstanding weight lifter, but adding pounds to his frame has not been easy.

"My goal is always to make plays and to make tackles when I have a chance to make tackles," Daniels said. "I want to try to be involved in the running game and trying to get some pressure on the quarterback."

Daniels is excited about playing Oklahoma and is grateful to whoever is responsible for hanging the banner on the practice field that is painted in bright red letters, "Beat OU."

"We are blessed to have good fans," Daniels said. "When we go into that stadium and see our fans in white we'll know that they're behind us. We're going to try to keep their fans up out of the game as much as possible. We just want to hear our fans- and they usually do a pretty good job at being heard.

"It doesn't get any better than this, going down to Norman, Oklahoma, for an Alabama-Oklahoma game. Everybody is going to be watching, its classic college football."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Daniels is also featured in a center-spread story for this month's edition of ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide.

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