Remember Ahmad Brooks?

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Big Orange Country four years ago when first-team USA Today All-America linebacker Ahmad Brooks picked the University of Virginia over the Vols. In retrospect, maybe the loss wasn't so great, after all.

As a prep senior in Woodbridge, Va., Brooks was regarded as perhaps the country's premier linebacking prospect. Vol coaches reportedly thought they had him locked up until he opted for his home-state university. Switching to Plan B, Tennessee's staff quickly signed another high school linebacker from Virginia, Marvin Mitchell of Norfolk.

Mitchell's Vol career has been hampered by an assortment of injuries but, as the No. 1 middle linebacker coming out of spring practice, he should have some impact on the 2006 college season. Brooks, on the other hand, will have no impact on the college season. He recently was dismissed from Virginia's program by head coach Al Groh.

For all of his talents on the field, the 6-4, 249-pound Brooks proved to be a colossal pain in the butt off the field. Failing to qualify for admission in 2002, he spent a year in prep school at Chatham Academy. He enrolled at UVa and played well the past two seasons but spent as much time in Groh's doghouse as he did in the huddle. Brooks' latest violation of team rules got him booted off the squad, even though he projected to be an all-star candidate in the season ahead.

While Marvin Mitchell is playing for the Vols this fall, Brooks will be playing for pay. He'll be eligible for the NFL's supplemental draft this summer. No doubt some pro coach with a lot of patience and a need at linebacker will take a chance on the talented but troublesome Virginian.


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