Brooks welcomes Red Shirt

The strength of the Panthers recruiting class last season was the exceptional group of running backs it reeled in. Pitt landed Rashad Jennings, Irvan Brown, Conredge Collins, Larod Stephens, and Shane Brooks. Brown was expected to move to safety, prior to a season ending shoulder injury. Brooks is red shirting and to him it's not a bad thing.

Like many small school standouts, they'll be the first to admit they have never spent many hours in the weight room. Most small schools lack the facilities for a player to even get a good workout in. Former Duquesne, Pa., standout Shane Brooks has no problem admitting his lack of weight training.

"My strength was all natural, I never lifted weights very much," Brooks said. "Up here, you have got to get stronger to survive. So a big part of my game that has changed is the lifting part of it. I feel like I'm getting stronger and faster."

LaRod Stephens has stepped up and taken the spotlight from this talented group. It would be easy for another high profile freshman to become jealous, but that's not the case with Brooks.

"Man, that kid is special, he's doin his thing," he said. ‘He's just so shifty."

Dave Wannstedt will have an interesting problem the next few years dishing out carries to all those backs. The scene becomes even cloudier next season as Pittsburgh adds highly touted Churchville, N.Y., running back Kevin Collier. Brooks is taking everything one day at a time.

"The biggest adjustment for me has been the school work," he said. "Between school and football you don't have much free time at all its crazy."

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