Florida State has a rich history of linebackers. From Paul McGowan, Reggie Herring, Marvin Jones and to Ernie Sims, the list is long of linebackers who have excelled on the collegiate level for the Seminoles. Derrick Brooks is the Seminoles best outside linebacker they've ever had, and that distinction puts him as NoleDigest.com's 8th best player in FSU history. Brooks is the trendsetter for the Noles, and he left a legacy that many have attempted to follow.
Derrick Brooks is not only one of the most impressive linebackers in FSU history, he's also considered to be one of the best who's ever played in college history. Brooks came to Florida State as one of the most heralded recruits ever and left FSU having set a new standard for the outside linebacker position. As a two-time consensus All-American and an NFL first-round draft choice in 1995, Brooks was a dominating linebacker who was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior in 1994 and a three-time All-ACC first team selection during his career. His ability to run like a receiver and make plays like a defensive back made him one of the most exciting players in all of college football.
Derrick was named as two-time consensus All-American in 1993 and 1994, and during those two seasons the big-play man on Florida State's dominating defense. As a junior Brooks scored three touchdowns on a pair of interceptions returns and a fumble return. Those scores came in a stretch where Brooks himself outscored FSU's first 3 opponents as they shutout Kansas and Clemson 45-0 and 57-0, respectively, and beat Duke 45-7. Derrick finished that season with 77 tackles, seven for loss, and was named the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year. He followed up his stellar junior season as he made 77 tackles again as a senior in 1994 and also had four for loss and three quarterback sacks.
Derrick's #10 jersey is held in high regards from the fan base, and he is a player new generations of Seminoles have come to cherish. FSU linebackers over the past several years like Lawrence Timmons, Geno Hayes and Nigel Bradham name Brooks as their idol and a guy they'd love to follow. Nigel once told NoleDigest, "Derrick Brooks has always been my idol," he said. "Growing up, that's always who I liked. He is why I wanted to become a linebacker. Like him I tried to play defensive back but it didn't work out too well for me. Then he moved to linebacker when I was in peewee football and I moved to linebacker and I always thought I was Derrick Brooks from then on."
Simply put, Brooks was the representation of what a student athlete should be for the Seminoles and college players overall. Brooks earned four varsity letters (1991-94) and was the defensive leader on Florida State's first national championship team in 1993. He recorded 274 career tackles and was a finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi, and Football Writer's National Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior. Brooks was also a top scholar-athlete who won an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and earned Academic All-America honors following his senior season. He was a GTE Academic All-America second team selection and named the ACC All-Academic team as a junior.
There are few players who've made the impact that Brooks has made on the Seminole program. He's been an active member of the university since he left and is a guy who loves to come back and help out his alma mater. Brooks is a legend, and his career made him an easy choice to make NoleDigest's top 10 list. Stay tuned to NoleDigest as we release the name of the 7th best player on our top 10 list of All-time Noles.