Renewed sense of self

CLEMSON - At this time a year ago, Zac Brooks was doing all he could to keep his nose above water.

An early enrolled freshman from Arkansas, he was just a few months removed from Jonesboro High School last spring.

"Last year, I came in second guessing myself a whole lot," Zac Brooks said. "I know the guys. I know the defense. I'm more familiar with the players. I didn't realize how much of an impact that would make on my confidence.

"Now I can come out here, it's not strangers. I'm not trying to protect myself. I'm looser with the program, I guess I could say."

One thing hasn't changed. Brooks needs to gain weight.

"We've got some right sized linebackers. Those guys are strong," he said. "Me coming in at 190, them sitting at 230 -- benching twice as much as I'm benching -- that's a matchup they're going to have. They're going to stand me up every time."

It's not as if Brooks isn't trying to pack on the pounds.

"I've been lean all my life. I don't know if it's going to come with age," he said. "I've been eating the way I'm supposed to. I've been working out the way I'm supposed to. I jumped six pounds in January when we were doing a lot of lifting.

"Hopefully, this summer, when we get back to straight lifting and working out, I'll probably jump up again. That's what I'm hoping for."

Brooks is also hoping to gain an inside track in the running back rotation. With the graduation of Andre Ellington, there are plenty of touches to go around.

"It's fun. It's a competition. That's what we play the game for," Brooks said. "Andre, he left. He left everybody with something -- he left everybody with a little knowledge.

"I'm not saying who's going to have the starting spot. I'm pretty sure that we're going to get a lot of playing time as a group, because we have a lot of excellent backs. There's a lot of talent in the backfield.

"It's going to be a hard decision for the coaches. That's what we're trying to do."

He's confident, not only in himself, but also in the other two scholarship running backs on the roster.

"We're all interchangeable. It's a great group of backs. It's going to be an exciting season," Brooks said. Top Stories