Brooks ready for the challenge to be number one

Following the spring game, there were lots of happy people, players, fans and coaches alike. The passing proficiency, the thought that Nebraska finally had their QB and the improvements almost across the board. Well, that can be bittersweet to some like future Husker Chris Brooks, because after he heard about the game, all he wanted to do was strap it on and catch a few of those balls himself. This is one young man that can't wait for his time to shine.

Down in St. Louis, Missouri, Chris Brooks sat and listened as he was regaled with numbers that both thrilled and disappointed him.

 

20 out of 27 passes complete for 357 yards, going in for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

 

Such was the statistical prowess of Nebraska's newest signal-caller, the now reigning number one QB on the chart, Zac Taylor.

 

After hearing about his throws, especially his excellence at chucking the pigskin deep, Chris had mixed emotions about it all. "It was great hearing how much success they had and the kind of crowd they had to see it," he said. "But, man, I want to be there right now. I heard about what they did and that deep ball and I just kept thinking about what it would have been like to get a few myself."

 

His mind-set is shared by the Husker fan-base, many etching Chris's name as the number one, replacing either Terrence Nunn or the other current starter, Mark LeFlore. They simply look at Chris's 6 foot, 4 inch, 195 pound physique and then nod in amazement at his 1,200 plus yards receiving last year with Hazelwood East high school last season. And, that's it, you don't need to convince them or even remind them, they know this kid is good.

 

Chris does to, but with an asterisk he himself firmly places to the side, qualifying "good" as being someone capable, but not someone that has done anything just yet. "I think about what I can do or what I hope to do, but until I get there and do that, nothing is for sure," Chris said. "What means more about what happens when I get there is what I am doing now, so I know I come in ready to go."

 

That consisted early on of weightlifting and a lot of it. Two months straight, actually, Chris saying that he already knew he had to be more physical, but a friend reminded him just how much more he needed to be. "My friend, Scott Starks, he just got picked up in the NFL draft by Jacksonville," Chris said of the former Wisconsin DB and former All-American at Hazelwood East. "He used to just beat me up at the line, which just showed me that I had to get bigger and stronger if I was going to be ready."

 

Chris has since done that, but now he's finding that he has to play catch-up in an area that he never used to have any problems with, speed. In fact, one of his former teammates at Hazelwood, who Brooks said consistently ran sub 4.4/40s couldn't beat him until now.

 

"I know that on paper, he's probably faster than me, but I always beat him in the forty," Chris said. "With all those weights I have been lifting, though, we raced just a few days ago and right out, he was three steps on me and going away."

 

"I knew I wasn't going to put up with that, so I am training with the track team now to get my speed back to where it was and hopefully, faster."

 

It's funny and sad at times when you hear about some recruits, who've gotten that offer and feel that the rest of the road is easy. With that mind-set, they take the off-season as just that and once they arrive in the summer at their school of choice, they are playing catch up until the season comes and most of the time, that entire year.

 

Chris said that is simply not an option or issue with him, because to get where he wants to be, he can't play catch up, rather he has to be a leg up the instant he arrives. "Everyone there is going to be in great shape," Brooks said. "They will have been running with each other, conditioning for the season and if I come even just a step slower, I'm going to wish I had worked out harder, did more or whatever so I would have been ready to compete with these guys straight up."

 

The goal is simple for Brooks: to be number one. Being the refreshingly modest young man that he is, he'll make sure to put the "but" in there after he says it. But, I know the competition level, but I know the guys there are all great receivers and but just about everything else to make sure people think of him as a competitor, not someone assuming their role once they arrive.

 

Assumptions are the last thing you'll get out of Chris Brooks.

 

Much of the reason being his family that he'll be leaving for the first time, his finace' and baby boy (Chris Jr.) will be in the rearview mirror and even as he drives away, is busy trying to work his way into the team when he arrives June 5th, the largest challenges will be not in making Lincoln a new home, but trying not to think about the home he wants to be at any instance he has a chance. "That's going to be the hardest part for me, I know that," Chris said of adjusting to life without them as a constant presence. "I know that I will get back when I can, but there's going to be stretches when I just can't see them that much."

 

"This is about the future, though, and I know that for my finance' and my son, you have to make these kinds of sacrifices now so that things are better for everyone in the end."

 

You can imagine that as Chris does step on the field in Lincoln, he'll have a motivation that most of which his teammates won't have a true grasp. Is that an edge? Possibly, but Chris's edge is the same edge he's had far before he had a family of his own.

 

Himself.

 

"I don't take away anything from anyone else, because I know what it takes to get to the kind of level you have to be at just to play ball at a place like Nebraska," Chris said. "But, I've always been like, if that guy is doing this, I have to do more. If he's running a mile, I have to do two. If he's running a 4.5, I've got to do a 4.4."

 

"It's not an ego-thing, it's just what I feel motivates me to be as good as I can be. I'm just never going to settle for second best."

 

Which brings us to that time in Fall when training camp arrives and the true test of where Chris is at and eventually will be, begins. That's three weeks to take in an offense he's only gotten to know through playing NCAA football on playstation and adjusting to the heightened level of speed.

 

Modesty aside, Chris knows exactly where he wants to be when that three weeks concludes and Maine comes down to Lincoln to play. "I'm going for number one," Chris said. "I know the challenges in front of me, but I didn't get this far by avoiding those challenges. I didn't get the scholarship by not doing what I thought was necessary to be the guy."

 

"If I end up just being a contributor, hey, that's fine and I will work that much harder to get to the top of the chart, but I'm looking at the top of the chart right now."

 

Husker fans have already given it to him for the most part. The numbers, those oh-so valuable rankings and his size have made Nebraska fans, still in their infancy in trying to understand the west coast offense, feel that Chris is just what this offense needs.

 

He's the prototype receiver for the new age, able to block, but unlike the storied days of the Huskers, that's actually what he'll do when he's not catching the ball, rather than something he does instead of caching the ball for most of an entire game.

 

It also doesn't hurt Brooks' feelings when he reads those first-half stats of the annual Red/White scrimmage, thinking that he's going to be a part of that, perhaps on the end of some of those 50 yard bombs. That's what he wants. Heck, that's what he's made for and now, he just has to wait for that time to arrive.

 

"You can feel the excitement there about what's going on and everything that happened in the spring game," Chris said. "I just want to be part of that, to get in front of those fans and do my part to help this team succeed."

 

"I know we will. I don't even have a question about that, because if I didn't believe in everything they were doing, I wouldn't be there."

 

"I know we're going to be successful. People are just going to have to watch and see. I can't wait to be a part of making that happen."


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