Brooks Worth the Wait

Nobody can blame James Brooks for having the proverbial ‘chip on the shoulder.' In high school he had many doubters that criticized his work ethic and were skeptical of his chances of qualifying for college. All the defensive end has done is keep on grinding on and off the field and evolve into a player that oozes great potential and is ready to make his mark for the Sun Devils this year.

Even though spring practices are without pads for the first few days, the pass rush abilities of James Brooks are still impressive. His physical attributes, coming in at 6-4 283, were never in question, and just like many young players his football skills are the ones that were needing to improve.

"He looks good," said Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson after Wednesday's practice about Brooks' performance in first couple of days in the spring. "We're not in pads but he's big and athletic, and he can move. I look at him and his future and he has a chance. He's real raw technique wise and he just has to continue to improve. As time goes on he can help us."

"It's fun being out here, getting some work with the 1's and 2's and trying to get a spot on the field," said Brooks. "I was working all of last year on the scout team preparing, getting ready for this. So now that my opportunity is here I will work my butt off to try and get on the field."

The defensive end admitted that being on the scout team, was like being a year out of football. There was some serious talk in the days leading towards the 2007 season opener that the former Flagstaff star may be able to contribute as a true freshman.

Eventually, the decision was made to redshirt Brooks, and he stated that having family in the area supporting him helped him deal with the situation. He noted "rusty technique" for the reason why he ended up redshirting.

"I have all the athletic ability but if I don't have the right technique, I won't make it," Brooks acknowledged. "The coaches have always put that in my head. They want my technique to match my athletic ability and go out and be a beast on the field."

The redshirt freshmen is quite aware that the defensive line depth is about to be upgraded in a major way when a handful or so of new players will arrive in the summer. Nonetheless, there's not even a hint of apprehension in Brooks' mind as he anticipates fierce competition for playing time.

"It's just motivation for me," he claimed. "I see three, four defensive ends coming in and I know that I have to work harder so my spot doesn't get taken."

In a previous interview Brooks said that his mindset is to always go on the field and do the best he can. "I'm not gonna be easily satisfied, because I have high goals for myself," he said. "And it's also about proving people wrong and showing them that I can be the player they said I couldn't be."

Now that he's off the redshirt year, Brooks makes no bones that his aspirations of becoming a starter this season. Yet, he knows that playing behind senior Luis Vasquez there's a fairly good chance that throughout the season he will be a backup on the depth chart. "Just being behind him and having competition will make me better and make him better," he explained. "Come game time, hopefully we'll split time and I'll get in the rotation. If I work harder, he'll work harder. Pushing each other will only help the team."

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