It was a trying season for St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) tight end Devante Brooks, to say the least. In fact, before his junior campaign even began the 6-foot-5, 230-pound four-star suffered a torn ACL while running a 10-yard out route at an Ohio State camp in June.
The freak accident immediately ended Brooks’ 2014 season, which was bad enough from a personal standpoint. But then Brooks had to watch his normally-competitive Cadets squad finish 6-4 and just 1-4 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, leaving St. John’s outside the league playoffs.
“I would say it’s difficult for any athlete to watch his team go through a season like we did. It was rough not being able to help, and I would’ve done anything to be out there with my teammates, especially for the seniors,” Brooks said. “But I tried to do my best to become another coach, just helping them on the field, in the classroom and just supporting them as best I could. It was rough though.”
The season may be over, but Brooks is still on the long road to recovery. After undergoing surgery during the summer and then beginning his rehab, Brooks was able to begin jogging a month and a half later. Now, he’s progressed to the point where he can almost sprint full tilt, although he’s still working to regain his speed. Brooks is still unsure when he can begin doing any type of contact/football drills.
“It’s been a process – a long process,” Brooks said. “It was weird the way it happened, because I didn’t find out I had even torn anything until like a month later when I went in for an MRI. I was able to walk normally for like two weeks before the doctor said I tore the ACL. But I accepted it, and I’m working to come back better than before.”
The lack of on-field action didn’t slow the recruiting process for Brooks, however. The St. John’s product picked up an offer from West Virginia a few weeks back and has maintained close contact with many of his foremost suitors.
“Mainly it’s been Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Nebraska and Pitt – those have been the [coaches] that have hit me up the most throughout the offseason,” Brooks said. “The coaches from those schools hit me up on Twitter like every other day, so they’re making a big push. I still keep in contact with some other [schools], but those guys are on me the hardest.”
One notable omission was, of course, Maryland, the hometown school. Brooks had seemed to be cooling on the Terps earlier in 2014 after singing their praises initially, but he suggested his UMD interest level had risen again during a subsequent interview.
“Maryland does still keep in contact; Coach [Mike] Locksley messaged me and wanted me to come to some games this year like against Michigan State and Ohio State, but I wasn’t able to make it,” Brooks said. “Since then, though, me and [Locksley] really haven’t talked extensively. I’m not sure what’s up; we’ll see.”
Brooks did say that he had noticed the uptick in pro-Maryland vibes among local recruits. He said many of the area's top talents have discussed attending the hometown school and turning the Terps into a potential power.
“That movement definitely hasn’t gone unnoticed and I did think about it,” Brook said. “It’s definitely big for Maryland, but I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do yet. I have to see how my senior season goes and see what happens from there.
“Personally, I would prefer to go a little further from home [for college], just to experience something new, but we’ll see. Who knows at this point?”
Brooks might make it over to College Park, Md., at some point this winter or spring, but he said he “definitely” wants to return to Tennessee for a basketball game or junior day, and then trek back to Virginia Tech as well. The St. John’s prospect was unable to attend any games this fall, so he’s eager to take a few campus visits.
“It’s quite obvious Tennessee is a heavy favorite for me right now,” Brooks admitted. “With them, I just love the players, coaches, stadium, facilities and just the Knoxville area in general. It was just something about Knoxville and the people there that really attracted me. I feel like everything is moving in the right direction there.”
Brooks isn’t about to commit to the Vols anytime soon, however. He said there’s still a long ways to go in the recruiting process and plenty of time to change his mind.
“There’ll be no decisions real soon,” Brooks said. “I can’t really give you an exact timeframe because I’m not even quite sure what I want to do, but I’m thinking it’s [selecting a college] won’t be before my senior season. It’ll probably be midseason, after the season or next year at some point.”
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