Brooks starting to hit his stride

James Brooks has been an unrealized potential throughout his Sun Devil career but the junior defensive end has lately been showing signs that he is ready to turn the corner and be the dominant lineman coaches and fans envisioned him to be.

James Brooks has been an unrealized potential throughout his Sun Devil career but the junior defensive end has lately been showing signs that he is ready to turn the corner and be the dominant lineman coaches and fans envisioned him to be. James Brooks and his unit, one of the best in the Pac-10, have performed with great impact in their first four showings. In their last matchup against Oregon, the Sun Devils forced the Ducks to punt 11 times and allowed no points in the fourth quarter.

"I think the d-line has played really well," Brooks commented. "I think it has been the best part of our defense in the first four games. Individually I've been OK but I'll just keep working and try to get better."

Throughout his career as a Sun Devil, Brooks has steadily improved reaching his career high of 17 tackles in 2009. With 6 tackles and one sack already this season, Brooks is poised to rewrite his own personal bests.

"I feel good," Brooks admitted. "It's just a matter of getting better every day so I've just been trying to improve my game. I think I can do a lot better, but I just have to keep working on it to keep myself in shape. I think things will change for the better.

"I want more sacks. I need more. I'm working my butt off to try to do that right now."

Brooks is not the only one on the Sun Devil defense striving to put pressure on the opposing signal caller. In the first four games of the season, the maroon and gold have accumulated a mere four sacks. Although they are finding success in other areas, the unit is working hard to up the pressure they put on the opposing teams' quarterbacks.

"We've been preaching putting pressure on the quarterback the last four weeks," Brooks noted. "We are kind of struggling with the pass rush but at the same time we're holding down the run.

"I don't think it's hurting us right now but at the same time we're working on it every day to put more pressure on the quarterback. We're focusing on it, but it's not a must have right now. We know it's going to come eventually if we keep working so we're just focusing on playing hard."

The Flagstaff High School graduate came to ASU in 2007 where he redshirted as a member of the scout team and made his debut in 2008. As an Arizona native, Sun Devil fans were familiar with Brooks during his high school career, and as he transitioned to college, he found motivation in knowing that his local fans were diligently following him.

"I think you have more pressure on you when the state knows you and they've heard about you in high school but I like that," Brooks admitted. "I like the pressure being on me and the spotlight on me so it fuels my fire."

Brooks was forced to bypass the vast majority of spring practice due to personal reasons, but his dedication to his teammates brought him back for fall camp and when he returned to the Sun Devils, it was as if he didn't miss a beat.

"Under the circumstances, leaving is what I had to do but I knew I wanted to come back just to contribute because I love my teammates," Brooks admitted. "When I came back I knew it was the right decision. Under the circumstances and what happened, it wasn't hard to get away and help but at the same time it was hard leaving my teammates.

"To be honest, the first day of practice I got sick, I was so out of shape but now I'm back in the swing of things so it's not too hard. It's fun to be back."

As the Sun Devils travel to Corvallis this weekend to take on the Oregon State Beavers the ASU defense will be counted on once again to perform at the fairly high level it has been displaying this season. Brooks is cognizant of the quality of his team's next opponent but is also confident that it the ASU defense will do what is needed in order to capture the first conference win of 2010.

"They always have a good o-line, they're always well coached," Brooks stated regarding Oregon State. "I think the thing for us is coming out and playing physical and if we just do our jobs we can hold down any team in the country. If our defense just does our job, we can play with anyone."

The maroon and gold have lost back-to-back matchups and are looking to break the streak and get their season heading in a positive direction. The Sun Devils will be on the road for three consecutive Pac-10 contests, but regardless of where they play, the goal is still the same.

"I think we just have to get a win," Brooks noted. "No matter where it is, Tempe, Corvallis, wherever, we have to get a win so we can get in the swing of things. We feel like we can win every game on our schedule that we have left so we just have to do it.

"I think we all know how to win, it's just getting that first one and coming together and winning a game. There are a bunch of ups and downs in the four quarters but if we just get everybody together, we can win and I think it will roll on."

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