Instate Jr.: Derek Brooks

Jim S. profiles another one on the state of Michigan's best.

Michigan Junior to Watch: Derek Brooks

Name: Derek Brooks
School: Redford Detroit Catholic Central
State: Michigan
Position: Running Back
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Forty: 4.53
Bench Press: N/A
Squat: N/A
GPA: 3.8+

2002 Honors: Detroit Free Press First Team Division 1 All-State; Detroit News Honorable Mention Class A All-State; Associated Press Honorable Mention Class A All-State; Detroit News Second Team All-Metro Detroit; Detroit News First Team All-Metro West; Detroit Free Press First Team All-Metro West; Observer Newspapers First Team All-Observerland; First Team All-Catholic-Central Division

2001 Honors: Detroit News Honorable Mention All-Metro West, Detroit Free Press Honorable Mention All-Metro West, Observer Newspapers Second Team All-Observerland

You can be sure that CC alumnus Terry Malone knows all about Derek Brooks, especially after his outstanding junior year performance in helping to lead Catholic Central to its second consecutive Division 1 state championship. In fact, Brooks was already a 1000-yard rusher for CC's 2001 state championship team his sophomore year. Brooks has already been up to U-M for at least one unofficial visit, having attended the Iowa football game last fall according to Tom Beaver.

Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach had this to say about Derek in mid-February: "Derek is a three-sport athlete. He also starts in basketball as a shooting guard and starts in baseball as an outfielder. He's 6-0, 175 and runs about a 4.5 forty. As a junior he rushed for about 1600 yards and 17 touchdowns. I think that he's a Division 1 player and the best back that ever went to Catholic Central. He will break all of the Catholic Central rushing records. He has great movement, sees the hole, sets up his blocks well and has very good instincts. Michigan and Michigan State have seen him on film. He is receiving a lot of Division 1 correspondence. I'm not aware of any offers at this point. This spring will tell the difference. He is just a great athlete. He can catch the ball well. He has the quality to be able to create holes. He doesn't get hit hard because he has that sense about him where he feels his way around people. He's a great receiver. Heck, he would even make a fine option quarterback for us. He is an excellent student with a 3.8 plus GPA."

An opposing coach, Detroit Country Day head coach Don MacLean had this to say about Derek in late January: "He's a top 10 in-state prospect. He's a very productive guy. You hold him in check but then he gets you. He has great feet and explosiveness.

An opposing coach had this to say about him in early February: "Brooks has breakaway speed and toughness. He does not have a lot of moves. I like him a lot. He can play at the Michigan level."

Yet another coach who went up against him had the following to say in mid-February: Brooks is definitely a top 15 in-state player. It's close whether he could play at Michigan. They will probably wait and see on him. He has good speed and decent size, but not great speed nor great size.

Here are the relevant press clippings:

Detroit News First Team All-Metro West (RB, 6'0, 180): Derek Brooks, Detroit Catholic Central: A two-year starter, Brooks rushed for 1,016 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season on 145 carries. He's a three-sport athlete who runs the 40 in 4.53 seconds. "He's fast and fluid," Coach Tom Mach said. ˜He's one of the best backs at C.C, and he's going to be the best when he's through."

Detroit Free Press First Team All-Metro West (RB, 6'0, 180): RB DEREK BROOKS School: Redford Catholic Central. Year: Junior. Size: 6-0, 180. Highlights: Two-year starter. Through 12 games, rushed for 1,400 yards (6.8 average) and 13 TDs. Coach Tom Mach: I think he's one of the best running backs in the state . . .. He's very fast and he's very fluid with great cutting instincts. He knows how to run tough on the inside and make you miss on the outside. 3.7 GPA

Observer Newspapers First Team All-Observerland: "Derek Brooks, RB, Redford CC: Statistically, Brooks had one of the best season's in school history - rushing for 1,629 yards (a 6.7 yards-per-carry average) and had 17 touchdowns. He was also an All-Catholic selection. What's worse for opponents is the junior is what Mach thinks is the best back that he's ever coached. ˜I think he's going to be the best back CC has ever seen by the time he's finished," said Mach. ˜At this time, he's the best around. He has a great ability to see the holes, make cuts and set up blocks. He does the little things, has speed and developing strength. The more you give him the ball, the better he gets."

Here is an article from the Detroit News after Brooks helped lead CC to yet another Division 1 state title his junior season: C. C.'s Brooks out-duels East Kentwood's Aleman By David Goricki / The Detroit News PONTIAC -- In a showdown between two of the state's elite junior running backs, Derek Brooks of Detroit Catholic Central rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries in a 36-26 victory over East Kentwood in the Division 1 final Saturday afternoon at the Silverdome. Noel Aleman of East Kentwood needed 284 yards to break the state's season rushing record. Aleman, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound fullback with 4.6 speed, had 227 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. He finished with 2,835 yards and 38 touchdowns. Brooks was at his best during the final drive of the first half and the opening drive of the second half to help the Shamrocks win their second straight state championship. Brooks rushed for 34 yards on seven carries during a 14-play, 91-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard run to give the Shamrocks a 15-14 halftime lead. The Shamrocks were forced to punt during the first series of the second half, but an offside penalty on East Kentwood extended the drive. Brooks ran 80 yards for a 22-14 lead after getting a block from Eric Vojtkofsky on a trap play. Brooks, a 6-foot, 180-pound tailback who has received recruiting letters from Nebraska, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan, used his 4.53 speed to finish the season with 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns. ˜The credit goes to the line," Brooks said. ˜The holes were big and I didn't have to do much. They (Falcons) run a 4-3 and we just lined up in the I (formation) and had base blocking. The right side of the line was dominant. ˜This is the best experience I've ever had and now I'll have a chance to do it three times." Said East Kentwood Coach John Shillito: ˜They took it to us physically. Their offensive line played a strong game and their backs ran hard."

Here is an extract from an Oakland Press article describing Brooks' performance against Brother Rice his junior season: Derek Brooks rarely hesitates when it comes to an opportunity to carry the football. The one time Brooks, a Detroit Catholic Central junior, did Saturday it resulted in six points and the winning touchdown. Brooks' stop-and-go, 52-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave top-ranked C.C. a 21-7 lead and it held on to defeat Birmingham Brother Rice, 21-14, before 4,200 at Birmingham Groves. Brooks rushed for 199 yards on 23 carries, none of which was finer than his long scamper. Seemingly trapped at the line of scrimmage, Brooks broke two tackles before knifing his way through the secondary. "I totally stopped," Brooks said. "I came to a dead stop. There was nothing there for a second. Then I took it. I love getting the ball, especially when it counts." C.C. (4-0, 1-0 Catholic League Central) dominated most of the first half and led 14-0. It outgained Rice, 225-104, but Rice's defense came out inspired in the second half and limited C.C. to 129 yards, 111 by Brooks.

Here's what the Observer had to say about the Brother Rice performance: On the offensive side, Shamrock junior RB Derek Brooks was the difference maker. Brooks played one of his best games of his young career, rushing for 199 yards on 23 carries and one highlight-film touchdown that gave the Shamrocks a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter. ˜Derek is a class young man and a great back," Mach said. "Rice has a very good defense, and Derek did a great job of breaking tackles and getting big runs. He's a very humble and hungry kid." "Brooks is a slippery back," Fracassa added. "We had a tough time containing him." Two of Brooks' runs took up 108 yards in the game, the first leading to a touchdown, the second the game-winning score. On the second long run, a 52-yard scamper, he shook off three tacklers near the line of scrimmage, made two sideways cuts and outran the defense to give CC a 21-7 lead with 10:55 left in the game. His 56-yard run in the first quarter led to the first scoring of the game. On one play, he took the Shamrocks from their own 14-yard line to the Brother Rice 30. Brooks and sophomore RB Eric Vojtkofsky ripped off consecutive runs of 16 and 15 yards on the final drive to wrap up the victory.

The press clippings are all quite amazing, but I suspect that Derek will be a bit of a wait and see prospect for Michigan. As one opposing coach who I quoted above put it, he has good size and good speed, but he's not really a big back or a burner. He does seem to have that feel for the position, so who knows. I suspect that the jury will be out on Brooks until after the spring evaluation period and summer camps are complete.

(dbase association: Detroit Catholic Central)

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