By Jerrell Richardson
Ahmad Brooks, Linebacker #55
Height: 6 ft 3 in
Weight: 259 lb
Age: 28 years old
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
Experience: 7th year
Like most kids, Ahmad Brooks wanted to be just like his dad when he grew up. Unlike most kids, though, his dad was former defensive tackle Perry Brooks, so Ahmad had his work cut out for him. Luckily for him, football was in his genes, and he has dominated on the football field since high school. The only things that have been able to slow down Brooks are injuries and personal issues. After a tough road to get to the NFL, he bounced around the league before finding a home in San Francisco, where he has become an integral part of an elite defense.
Brooks attended C.D. Hylton High School in Virginia, where he was the man. Most professional football players can claim that they were the big man on campus in high school, but few can say that as a junior they were the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year. He played his senior season at the Hargrave Military Academy and in 2002 was arguably the best linebacker in the country when he decided to play at Virginia. Due to his grades not being up to par, Brooks had to spend one year at a post-graduate military school before becoming eligible to play college ball.
Fast Start, Bad Finish
Brooks burst on the scene in the fall of 2003, earning a starting role as a freshmen and leading the team in tackles. As a sophomore he was a finalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker. He had NFL prospect written all over him. Injuries bothered Brooks throughout high school and a knee injury after his sophomore year in college limited his playing time as a junior. With no football to focus on, he lost direction and was involved in multiple off-the-field issues before eventually being dismissed from the Virginia football team in 2006.
Still Given A Shot
All NFL teams look at the character of the players they draft, and Brooks checkered past scared off teams from investing a substantial pick in him. At the same time, talent can’t be ignored and the Cincinnati Bengals selected him late in the NFL Supplemental Draft. As a hungry player with football motivating him, Brooks slowly worked his way into the starting line-up before a groin injury almost spelled doom for his career. Cincinnati waived him after his injury, but Brooks was given a second chance when claimed by the 49ers.
Injury Free As A 49er
San Francisco was not sold on Brooks, and even released him to make room on the roster for another player before reclaiming him less then a week later in 2008. While practicing, Brooks caught the eye of then-head coach Mike Singletary, who felt that Brooks would be a valuable weapon in the teams pass rush. Singletary started to utilize him more and more in games. Since then Brooks has worked at his craft and has recently played like the same player who was considered the best in the nation coming out of high school. In 2011, he recorded career-high in tackles and sacks, and along with Aldon Smith, he has given San Francisco a respectable pass rush. His father passed away in 2010, and would no doubt be proud of his son who followed in his father’s footsteps despite the bumpy path.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.