Young Brooks starts strong

Darrell Brooks stepped on the field for his first college start and justified the glowing reviews he had received throughout the preseason. The redshirt freshman corner back gave Wildcat fans a lot of confidence that the team had the compliment they needed opposite Michael Jolivette.

All Brooks did in his first game was lead the team in tackles and break up two pass plays. Not bad for a player who was recruited as a safety and was still playing that position in training camp.

"Darrell did a great job," said Jolivette. "He's a great young player. Maybe now teams will throw my way more."

Brooks split time in the early part of camp as both a corner and a safety. Initial concerns about his speed were quickly alleviated. Brooks feels the double duty helped him learn the schemes better.

"It has allowed me to broaden my horizons as a defensive back," Brooks said. "To not get fixated at one position. It has allowed me to learn the defense more completely, to know more positions. It has helped me out a lot. I have no real preference as long as I am on the field.

It was a tough decision to redshirt the talented youngster, but the Wildcat coaches decided that a year to mature would do him good. Although he was disappointed then, Brooks now realizes that it has helped him. "With a year under my belt I feel like I know a lot more about the defense.," said Brooks. "I'm more comfortable at the corner position now. I think the camaraderie is there, we are tighter as a unit."

Jolivette may be glad to have Brooks lining up on the opposite side of the field, but Brooks credits the junior with helping him learn the position.

"Mike J's helped me out a great deal," Brooks revealed. "Every aspect of my transition to corner he has helped me out with. Whenever I need to learn something, when he thinks I need to improve something he lets me know. He points out things in film sessions. He's just been a great help to me."

Brooks shocked many by beating out some more experienced players. Senior David Hinton and junior college transfer Luis Nunez could not hold off the talented youngster. Brooks claims there is no ill-will and that the unit is better for all the competition.

"We all want to win," said Brooks. "All summer we knew we were going to compete against each other. We didn't come in with the individual mind set, we came in focused like a team. We push each other. We help each other with any improvements we may need. We've just been working with each other. We just want to win. It's a very friendly rivalry. We just want to push each other and compete."

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