We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
When your defensive line is as good as Florida State’s was last season, it’s tough for the secondary to get a ton of action coming their way. But Terrence Brooks still made the most of his opportunities last year, with 51 tackles — most among Seminoles defensive backs. His standout game? Arguably the biggest contest FSU played in last season; a 49-37 win over Clemson. Up against the high-powered Tigers, he managed 12 tackles, which was directly related to the quick pace of Clemson’s offense. Despite a rough start to that game by the entire FSU defense, it was the second half effort by Brooks and co. that made the difference in notching that important early victory.
This season there’s still plenty to like on Florida State’s defensive line, but with much less experience, this team suddenly relies a lot more on the defensive backs — especially in a scheme devised by new defensive coordinator (and former Alabama DB, then secondary coach) Jeremy Pruitt. Brooks certainly saw plenty of involvement last year, but under Pruitt, it’s likely we’ll see even more activity from the secondary as the team looks to take a few risks to bolster the pass-rush and keep opposing passers off-balance. Last year, he nabbed two interceptions, while forcing a fumble and also tallying one tackle-for-loss. Expect those numbers to remain a bit static as he fills the deeper free safety role in coverage, though the interceptions could end up spiking as a result of more passes coming his way, too.
If there’s one thing that Brooks has had to — and will have to — consistently battle, it’s his own lack of confidence. As ESPN brought up following the Clemson game, the most dejected man on the field after the final whistle was not a member of the Tigers, but ended up being Brooks. Despite his strong performance, he was so wrapped up in blown coverage and the moments he felt overwhelmed by Clemson’s go-go-go passing attack that it felt like a loss. He won’t have the luxury of sulking this year, but he seems to understand that, too. With former safety Lamarcus Joyner now playing corner, Brooks has an opportunity to show off an awful lot of leadership in his senior season. But that starts with putting the past behind him, which could be the key to his, and the FSU secondary’s success as the year wears on.