In one high school long jump, Oklahoma running back Daniel Brooks destroyed his knee – blowing out his ACL, MCL, LCL, Meniscus and tore his hamstring. He was worried that his future with the Sooners was in doubt.
A phone call assured him that he was still wanted on the roster, and a few years of patience brought him an offense that is tailor-made for his very unique set of skills – most specifically his world-class speed.
“All of us at the running back position have so many opportunities,” said Brooks, comparing himself to the style fit of De'Anthony Thomas and Tavon Austin based on size and speed. “It’s chance for me to split out wide. I get some reverses. I line up in the backfield. There are screens. There are a variety of things I can do. It’s a great opportunity for me and a great chance to show my talents.”
Brooks is back to running track in the spring, something that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops encouraged but suggested a balance, and said that all of his speed is back. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.89 seconds.
“I think I actually got faster,” Brooks said.
Speed is one thing, but the fit on offense makes it look even better. Without Rodney Anderson and Joe Mixon as well as a touch-only Samaje Perine, Brooks shined in the Red and White Game. For the second year in a row, Brooks led the spring game in rushing yards. He carried it 21 times for 154 yards this spring.
“He’s just been one of those guys that continued to battle and battle,” Stoops said. “He’s finding his way. This offense is great for him. It allows him to be multiple and use his speed on the outside. You can hand the ball off to him and he can use his speed around the edge. He’s gonna get some snaps, and he’s going to do well for us.”
After his breakout spring last year, Brooks only rushed six times for 26 yards during the regular season. New offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense makes things a little different for Brooks, who started playing cornerback at Oklahoma after he recovered from his injury before the Cotton Bowl in 2012.
“Everyone told me we were going to a spread and that fit my style,” Brooks said. “. . . I knew that was the type of offense for me because of my size and the way I can use my speed in it in different ways.”