Sunday, July 22, 2007
2007 Recruiting - Ron Brooks
As this series winds down slowly, we take a look at one of the most athletic players in the 2007 recruiting class. This is Ron Brooks, 4-star athlete (meaning he has no set position that the recruiting services know of), 6'0" 170# listed, 4.4 second 40 time, 32" vertical jump. He played wide receiver and quarterback for his high school in Irving, Texas. From what I understand, his listed height is something of a fib, and he's closer to about 5'9" or 5'10".
His videos show him to be electric with the ball in his hands, but he's too light to be a traditional running back, too short to be a prototypical wide receiver, and doesn't have the arm to be a quarterback. He's also a very accomplished ball-hawking defensive player with 10 interceptions as a senior, and a return man, not afraid to hit or be hit.
At All-star games, he usually played wide receiver, and performed well.
He's undersized for most positions, except corner, but has ball skills to suggest he should be on the offensive side of the ball. As a man without a position, he is perfectly illustrative of one of the first principles of college football recruiting. Always take a risk that a superior athlete will find a way to contribute*. This applies if the great athlete isn't the proper size for any particular position, or if he has only been playing football for short period of time, or if he has not been well-coached to this point in his career.
For my money, given the choice between two athletes, one of whom is the prototypical size and has received great coaching through the high school ranks, and the other of whom is a phenomenal athlete who isn't the ideal size for his position and has only been playing football for two years, take the phenomenal athlete. You'll be better off in the long run.
Les Miles has illustrated this principle successfully with Trindon Holliday, who is much too small to be a prototypical anything at the college level. Despite being only a 3-star athlete due to his size, he is proving to be very valuable in a limited, specialized role because he is a superior athlete. Ron Brooks is bigger than Trindon and has better ball skills, though does not have the same straight-line speed (few if any college football players can keep up with Trindon on a straight line).
If I was to say who Ron Brooks reminds me of at this stage, it would be Tyrone Prothro, former wide receiver for Bama. Prothro was also below 6' tall, but was athletic and had great ball skills, and became the best offensive player in the SEC before his injury. I'm not by any means suggesting that Ron Brooks is destined to be the kind of player Prothro was, but I think Ron Brooks, at this stage, is similar to Prothro more advanced than Prothro was at the same stage. Prothro, of course, developed and developed and developed until he became a very serious player. It remains to be seen what Brooks can do.
*The contrary principle is never take a risk that a bad character will turn himself around. My above illustration doesn't apply if the phenomenal athlete has spent a lot of time at juvie or if he has a bad work ethic. Let some other school take a risk on him.