Brooks tutored eight players at the University of Tennessee who were selected in the NFL draft, including first-round draft choices Shaun Ellis (2000), John Henderson (2002), Albert Haynesworth (2002) and Justin Harrell (2007). Haynesworth recently signed a $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins.
He also coached 11 players that earned All-SEC honors.
"I coached guys that were eager to learn and took well to coaching,"
Though he has not coached his current group of players in a game just yet,
Clemson's new defensive tackles coach likes what he has seen so far out of
guys like nose guard Jarvis Jenkins and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson.
Granted he has to replace starters, and team leaders, Dorell Scott and
Rashaad Jackson up front, but Jenkins and Thompson have already proven
themselves on the field and at least in the spring took their roles
serious enough that they both dropped weight and built up their strength
"I like this group. I like the way they came and competed," Brooks said.
The veteran coach was also pleased to see he had some quality backups in
Jamie Cumbie and Miguel Chavis behind his two starters.
Last year, the defensive tackles helped Clemson hold five opponents under
100 yards rushing, including two under 31 yards. S.C. State rushed for
minus-10 yards, while Virginia totaled just 30. Those games showed Clemson
has the personnel to get the job done. Brooks just has to make sure they
do it on a consistent basis.
"I'm pleased with the group and I think we will be able to take them and
help them progress into what they want to be," he said. "When I say
progress, I kind of like to take them from the day I got to coach them
"I think we are making progress. The biggest thing I saw that they needed
to do, and this is basically a young group, they just need to it
consistently. I think there are five guys that can play and can help us
win. I have not decided what that rotation is going to be yet."
That fifth guy is sophomore Rennie Moore, who is currently listed as the
third string nose guard behind Jenkins and Cumbie. Brooks was really
pleased with the way the 6-4, 265-pound defender came on in the spring and
how he took to his coaching methods. He also liked the fact he pushed
Jenkins and Cumbie to go and work even harder in practice.
Right now, Jenkins (6-4, 305) and Thompson (6-2, 315) are listed as the
starters heading into camp on Aug. 4, but Brooks says that means very
little on who will actually be starting when the ball kicks off on Sept. 5
against Middle Tennessee.
"When they walk out to practice that first day, it doesn't mean they have
the starting job," he said. "I think we have good enough people that we
can compete every day. That's what I want to do. With those five guys, we
can come up with a good rotation, but I fully expect ya'll to see all five
of them in the first quarter of the first game."
And that's the reason Brooks' defensive fronts have been so good for so
long. During his 15 years in Knoxville, the Volunteers ranked in the top
25 nationally in scoring defense 10 times, in rushing defense 10 times and
in total defense eight times. That includes 2008 when the Vols were third
in the nation in total defense, 10th in scoring defense and 12th in
Between 1997 and 2001, Tennessee ranked in the top eight in the nation in
rushing defense every year and his defensive linemen had a lot to do with
that success. Each of the top four sack totals in school history were
achieved during Brooks' time, including the 2000 season when the defense
had an even 50 sacks.
That's good news for a Clemson defense that record just 14 sacks in 2009,
six of which came from the defensive front.
"I like to keep my guys fresh and keep them all playing," Brooks said.
D-Tackles should be a strength
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