Mississippi State continues to receive commitments from the top players in the state of Mississippi. The latest commitment is Madison Central High School class of 2016 middle infielder Will Brooks.
Brooks is not as well known as many of the other Mississippi high school commitments that Mississippi State has received. There is a reason for that according to his summer travel team head coach Joe Caruso, the head coach of the East Coast Baseball program.
"He is a kid who plays at a high school where you have to wait your turn," said Caruso. "He had to do that at Madison Central because they have such a great program. That is why you hadn't heard of Will Brooks."
But Caruso, who had a batting average of .343 with 37 home runs and 181 RBI during his four-year career at the University of Alabama, knows a lot about talent. And he believes the 16-year-old Brooks is a very special talent.
"As a player, he is special because he has something that you just can't find," said Caruso. "He is a plus, plus runner, a 6.4 sixty (yard dash) runner, with tremendous batspeed. Every time he comes to the plate he has the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark to all fields. And when he gets on base he can steal a base. He is not only a guy who can drive runs in but who can also score a lot of runs because he has the ability to put himself in scoring position. And he also has the ability to defend. I don't know where you will play him in college because he can play shortstop or in the outfield. He could also play second base and be unbelievable there. You are talking about a kid who has tremendous tools, professional tools. One day, if he continues to get better and grow into the game, he will play pro ball."
Caruso saw Brooks power potential this past summer when he played for his 18U travel team.
"This past summer, he came out and played for us and did extremely well," said Caruso. "He did so well that we actually moved him up to our 18U team. He played with (MSU true freshman) Cole Gordon and his 18U team. That team finished 10th in the country last year. Will was the only sophomore on the team. In his first at-bat he sent a rocket shot out of the ballpark and we won that game 3-2. He did that against a guy who I believe was committed to Georgia Tech."
How he performed during the summer generated interest from several colleges, including Mississippi State.
"Mississippi State's interest in me started this past summer when I started playing for (East Coast Baseball Head Coach) Joe (Caruso)," said Brooks, who also had an offer from Southern Miss and interest from LSU and Southeastern Louisiana. "I was playing up for their 18U team. We were playing in a tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. (Mississippi State assistant) Coach (Nick) Mingione was there for the first game against I believe the (East Cobb) Astros. I was batting 9th in the order because I was playing with older guys and in my first at-bat I hit a home run. My next at-bat against a harder throwing pitcher I got another hit, I believe to the right side.
"I guess that is when I got Coach Mingione's attention. And for the past six months we have been staying in contact. He told me that for the past six months he has been talking to every single person that I have played for, trying to make sure they were getting the right guy. He did all of his homework, then this past Monday he came and watched me at practice and said he fell in love with me after watching me practice."
In fact, Mississippi State fell in love enough to extend an offer.
"Joe (Caruso) called me Wednesday night either 8 or 9 o'clock when I was at the gym and told me that Nick Mingione called and told him they were going to offer me," said Brooks. "Then Joe called my dad and told him."
Not long after that, Brooks and his dad received another call.
"Nick Mingione called my dad and talked to him for about an hour, an hour and a half," said Brooks, who plays shortstop for Madison Central and center field for East Coast Baseball. "Then, Mingione called me and we talked for about 30 minutes. When we talked I immediately said I'm in. He said, 'really, right now?' He was probably more excited than me and I was really excited. He said they can't wait to get me up there. And I can't be any more excited about going up there. I was just waiting on the offer. It is a dream come true for me. I am still in shock."
Based on how well Brooks is doing during his first season of starting on the varsity level, Mississippi State's coaches made a wise decision to offer. Brooks is doing extremely well in his first year on the varsity team, leading the team in hitting with a .436 (17-of-39) batting average. He also has 8 RBI, 6 doubles, 1 triple and 2 home runs.