With the movement and realignment of Keith Dudzinkski's defense, the linebackers in Maryland's new 4-3 defensive scheme are going to be an inexperienced bunch to say the least. The biggest move in the young defense sees junior Yannick Ngakoue and sophomore Jesse Aniebonam switch from linebacker to defensive end. Finding replacements for two of the Terps' most athletic defenders won't be easy, but through player development and an aggressive approach to recruiting, including that of 2017 Virginia linebacker Ellis Brooks, the Terps could continue a string of steady and productive linebackers.
"We've mostly been doing workouts, so I've been doing that Monday through Friday," said Brooks on his offseason routine. "We do some 7-on-7's on Saturdays. We also have defensive meetings, so I've been watching a lot of film. Just getting ready for the season and stuff like that."
The 6'1, 230-pound linebacker recently visited College Park, and came away impressed with meeting head coach Randy Edsall for the first time. Like many other recruits, Brooks got a sneak peek of what the new Cole Field House facility renovation entails.
"It went great. I met the head coach, and I hung out with my lead recruiter, Coach (Chad) Wilt. They showed me all the facilities and gave me a tour of the campus. It was really fun. They showed me the blue print on the new facilities. They look really nice. It's an upscale place."
Maryland's culture and atmosphere are among the factors that stand out to Brooks.
"What stood out to me most about the university was how everybody seemed like family there," he said. "They seem very close-knit. They seem true and honest. They didn't seem like they were too into themselves or like they were trying to put on a show for me because I was coming in and visiting."
The Big Ten is a hotbed for NFL-sized offensive linemen, and with the constant battle in the trenches, the run game has been vital for success within the conference. On the opposite side of the spectrum, stopping the run has also been pivotal and that's the role that Maryland hopes Brooks can fill should he elect to become a Terp.
"The person who talks to me about what my role would be is my positions coach (Dudzinski). He looks at me like a box guy. An inside linebacker."
Brooks, a four-star prospect according to the 247Sports composite, is the 14th-ranked outside linebacker and the ninth-ranked prospect in Virginia in the class of 2017. The prospect holds eight offers, and would be a coup for Edsall and the Terps, as many schools are in frequent contact with Ellis. The prospect also has a couple of schools in mind that have done enough recruiting to warrant a visit
So which schools stand out to the highly-coveted linebacker?
"None more than the others," said Brooks. "But the schools that have offered me, I like them. I really want to go see all of them. All of them are in frequent contact. I keep in touch with all of the schools that have offered me."
A couple of former ACC foes have worked their way into the mix of Brooks' visit plans.
"Not yet," said Brooks on a concrete visit schedule. "We just did these two because it fit with my football schedule. I didn't want my recruitment to interfere with my team and my defense and stuff like that. Whatever works out best because we have camp coming up. So we'll see. I want to go visit UNC and maybe Wake Forest. Those are two schools I haven't gotten a chance to go see. I haven't met the head coaches. They're both good programs. Wake is a good academic school, and UNC is also a good academic school so they have some good attributes. I'll have to go see the schools to learn more about them."
As Brooks is set to enter his junior season, it could be up to a year before he pledges to a university.
"I'm looking towards next spring or summer," said the prospect on his timeline on trimming his list. "I'm thinking about the summer before my senior year."