To get a better idea of that the Tigers are getting in Brooks, we asked Scout.com recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. a few questions about the Class of 2017 standout linebacker from Bessemer City High School.
What does Garcia like most about Brooks?
“His versatility,” Garcia said. “I think going into his junior year he was viewed as somewhat of a coverage or small linebacker, a space guy. But here in the last year he’s really hit the weight room hard, bulked up and now he’s comfortably 225 pushing 230 and he still had some of those attributes that made us think he was a space guy — yet he’s in this bigger frame now that’s more built for SEC ball. So I think he is a guy is instantly a three-down linebacker at the next level. He can cover. He can run. He’s a tackling machine. He was top two or three in the state in tackles last year. There’s a lot to like about him as a linebacker. He’s one who can play in any era, especially at this bigger size.”
Is he a true middle linebacker type or is he better suited as an outside guy?
“I think now that he’s bigger, he could be,” Garcia said. “It would depend on the scheme. I’m not too familiar with what Mizzou is going. But he can be the leader of your defense type of middle linebacker, sideline to sideline, an old-school 4-3 middle linebacker, if that makes sense. I could definitely see him doing that with that type of responsibility, but I do think he’s best suited to play outside in the SEC. If it was another conference I would say inside, but with the speed and athleticism he’s going to be combating I think he’ll be needed on the edge.”
Do you see Brooks as a solid commitment or do you think he could he be swayed later on if an Auburn or someone came calling late in the process?
“I think every kid growing up in Alabama wants those two offers and he’s one of them,” Garcia said. “He’s been open about it. But one, I don’t think it happens. Linebacker happens to be the position in Alabama this year. There are literally a dozen-plus linebackers in the state with SEC offers. I’ve never seen anything close to it. And he’s right in the middle of the pack. There are some blue-chip guys ranked higher than Brooks that don’t have offers from either school. It’s just that type of year. Both schools already have a good amount of commits at the position. So outside of those two I don’t think there are many offers that would immediately cause a pause. So I actually think this sticks. I think he’s a kid who has been a pretty high-profile guy in Alabama for a long time and he wasn’t going to commit just to commit. I think he wants to play in the SEC and he had (offers from) Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mizzou, I think maybe South Carolina, so it’s not like this was his lone SEC offer so he latched onto it just for those three letters. He had several to weigh. There are several that had evaluated him. I think this sticks. I think he wants to be part of sort of a new wave. The new team on the block kind of feel. He’s definitely not a follower. He’s not going to go somewhere else just to go somewhere else because maybe it’s perceived as a bigger offer.”
Is it fair to call him a chip on the shoulder type of guy who will use the motivation from not getting those offers?
“Oh, absolutely,” Garcia said. “Not getting those offers. He’s the type of kid to ask about his ranking, why is it like this, what does he need to do to get that next star, things like that. He thinks all of that every day. He’s sort of a 24-7 football guy, if that makes sense. That’s who he is about. He’s not going to get into a lot of off-the-field stuff. He’s not a partier. He is a captain of the defense type of guy 24-7, not just on the field. So when he feels disrespected in that he feels like his time is not being seen as the way he sees it, if that makes sense.”
Brooks promoted his high school teammate, defensive tackle Jhalin Witherspoon, for a Missouri offer this week on Twitter. Did you see that? Do you know much about the D-tackle?
“Yeah, I did,” Garcia said. “I thought that was a very Jamal Brooks thing to do. He’s definitely a leader of his team and you can see he wants to sort of spread the wealth there. I don’t know of Jhalin is on that level at this point. We haven’t gotten that great a look at him. He’s flashed here and there but we certainly haven’t labeled him an SEC-type defensive tackle because if linebackers in the SEC are few and far between defensive tackles are even fewer and further in between, because you’re talking first-round draft pick type guys. We don’t think that highly of Witherspoon at this point, but it’s July. So your senior year is big, especially for those guys. Big guys, their senior year is almost more important than their junior year, which is more important to every other position it seems like. I wouldn’t be surprised if his stock rose. I just don’t know if it will be that high at the end of the day.”
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