Prior to the 2018 season, when Dylan Brooks was about to enter his sophomore season for the Handley Tigers, his head coach offered a lofty appraisal of the potential of his wiry, athletic defensive end.
“He can be as good as he wants to be,” said Handley head coach Larry Strain. “If he puts forth the effort he can play anywhere in the country.”
Those words have turned out to be prophetic.
Brooks received his first scholarship offer from the University of Indiana on January 2, and since then he has exploded onto the scene. In the past three months the world of football recruiting has fallen at Brooks’s feet as the offers have come pouring in from all over the country.
According to the 247 recruiting website he has accrued a total of 17 offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Indiana, Jacksonville St., LSU, Mississippi St., South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UAB, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
And sooner rather than later the list will become much too long to list every single one of them in a newspaper article.
In addition to those offers, Brooks has already received invitations to participate in camps and all-star games reserved for the country’s elite high school prospects. He has earned spots in the Under Armor All-American game, the Under Armor Future 50 game and the 3 Stripe Camp series hosted by Rivals and Adidas.
247 has also listed him as a four-star prospect and the 26th best player in the nation for the class of 2021.
“[Jeremy] Pruitt at Tennessee told me that they project him to be the number one or number two player in his class in the country when his senior year gets here,” Strain said. “That’s the same thing [Dan] Mullen told me at Florida. So he’s hit the big time.”
And so far the big time has not produced a big head for the rising Handley star.
“I’m starting to get a lot more attention,” Brooks said. “That just means I’m going to have to perform up to my standards. It’s just good that all your hard work has paid off.”
Strain says that the attention from blue-blood football programs of the SEC in particular has motivated Brooks to live up to the hype. He has begun to take his off-season training regimen very seriously, and in so doing has made himself a positive influence on the Handley program.
“It makes those other kids work harder,” Strain said. “And if he leads us in the right direction obviously it helps everybody.”
So how did things come together so quickly for Brooks?
According to Strain it all started when Brooks landed a spot on the ASWA all-state team back in December.
“What all these college coaches do, and the coach at Indiana did this. The coach at Indiana went and pulled everybody’s all state teams from all over the country,” Strain said. “And the first criteria, they’re looking for somebody over 6’2” or 6’3”. Especially if they’re a sophomore that makes all-state, they go and pull his film and evaluate him.”
“And Dylan’s highlight film, if you’ve seen it, it’s impressive.”
In the film posted on Hudl.com, Brooks puts on an athletic display that features all of the things that big-time colleges look for.
“Three factors they’re looking at, obviously his height,” Strain said. “The second thing they’re looking at is his speed. The third thing they’re looking at that everybody talks about, can he bend? Can he get down there and can he put his backside below his knees when he does squats? Dylan has all of that.”
Brooks has already taken unofficial recruiting visits to a number of schools including Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson, among others. He knows that he has plenty of time to make a decision about where he will go, but when he’s asked he says there’s one program that stands out above the rest right now.
“Alabama,” he said, before adding Florida, Florida State and Auburn as schools that have also made a positive impression.
He said he’s looking for “a team that can win, that I can go there and help. I just want to play.”
For the next two seasons playing time won’t be an issue, as Brooks will be on the field as much as possible for the Handley Tigers. And he says all of the attention that has come his way this offseason won’t change his approach once the lights go on on Friday nights this fall.
“I did what I did last year without anything, without any offers or anything,” Brooks said. “So I’m just going to look at it like I don’t have anything. I’m going to go out there like a regular person and play.”