It’s Defensive Backs Week at Testudo Times. Our summer football preview series — which has already covered Maryland’s quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive linemen, defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers — is getting closer to completion. Let’s start our player profiles with the most versatile member of the Terps’ secondary.
Antoine Brooks Jr., DB, No. 25
Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Lanham, Maryland
High school: Duval
Brooks played both quarterback and defensive back in high school, and was named first team All-Metro as a junior. In October of his senior season, though, he suffered a gruesome injury that ended his high school career and made him question whether he’d ever play again.
Maryland took a chance on him, reaching out late in the 2016 recruiting cycle. Brooks, then just a two-star recruit, pledged to the Terps two days before National Signing Day. He stepped on the field in Maryland’s opener against Howard just over 10 months after his injury. As a freshman, he appeared in six games, primarily on special teams.
Brooks had a breakout 2017 in every way.
With Maryland leading Texas 14-7 in the second quarter of the season opener, Brooks scooped up a blocked Longhorns field goal attempt and ran it back 71 yards for a touchdown. The Terps won that game, and Brooks won Big Ten Co-Specialist of the Week for his efforts.
Brooks spent the rest of the season making a major impact on defense. He finished second on the team with 77 total tackles—53 solo, 24 assist—and chipped in a sack, forced fumble and interception over the course of the year. That performance set him up to be one of the stars of the defense for the pair of seasons to come.
He seems to be shifting positions again, but he’ll fit right in.
Brooks played quarterback and defensive back in high school. He played linebacker as a freshman. He moved to safety in the 2017 offseason and then ended up at nickel corner. This year, indications are that he’ll move to a linebacker/safety role similar to the one previously occupied by Denzel Conyers in this defense.
This switch would be a strong fit with Brooks’ skill set, which is better suited for running down ball carriers than covering fast and shifty wide receivers. It also allows RaVon Davis, a more traditional nickel corner, to occupy that role in his senior season. The Terps have several other talented safeties gunning for playing time, and Brooks’ designation is also a potential fit for players like Jordan Mosley, Fa’Najae Gotay or Ahmad McCullough—who were recruited as linebackers—but DJ Durkin will certainly prioritize getting Brooks on the field as much as possible.
Ever since Brooks’ career-threatening injury in 2015, it’s been a rapid rise from two-star recruit to budding defensive star in College Park. If he continues that ascent this fall, the Terps’ defense will be that much more dangerous.