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Determination turns things around

07/09/2014, 6:00am PDT
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

Christian Brooks was kicked off the team as a freshman. That hardened his resolve.


Wide receiver Christian Brooks, who played at Grossmont High, will be one of the players to watch at this year’s Alex Spanos All-Star Classic. He piled up 1,527 all-purpose yards last season. The all-star game will be played Friday night at Mesa College.

PREP FOOTBALL
What: North vs. South in 24th annual Alex Spanos All-Star Classic
Who: Top graduated seniors from the 2013 season
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: San Diego Mesa College
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 juniors
Last year: South won 41-7

********************

When Christian Brooks was a freshman at Grossmont High, he was kicked off the football team.

“The head varsity and freshman coach told me if I continued the way I was going, with my attitude and academics, I’d never play a down of football for Grossmont High,” Brooks said. “They were using me to set an example to others.

“I was rebellious, but instead of getting angry, I determined I would prove them wrong. The turning point came when a friend, who was also struggling, told me he’d talked to his teachers and they let him do extra work to catch up. He said in order to play in September, we had to be eligible.

“That motivated me. I thought if he could do it, so could I.”

With a month left in his freshman year, he went to his teachers, and though all of them didn’t cooperate, enough did to get his grades above a 2.0 so he’d be eligible.

The rest is history.

Brooks, who will play in Friday night’s Alex Spanos All-Star Classic at San Diego Mesa College, was asked to play quarterback for the JVs, but the last two years, he has been one of the section’s most productive wide receivers.

Being on the receiving end of passes from fellow All-Star quarterback Anthony Lawrence, Brooks caught 64 attempts for 810 yards and eight TDs as a junior before tacking up school record numbers of 92 receptions for 1,250 yards and 12 TDs last season.

In 2013, he had 1,527 all-purpose yards, adding on rushing and passing yards.

Somehow, though, the solidly built 6-foot, 170-pounder was not recruited, which brings us to the All-Star Game.

“Of course, I’m hoping some Division I college notices me,” said Brooks, who built his grade-point average to more than 3.0 and is a full qualifier. “No matter what, I can’t just step away from football yet. I’ll go to Southwestern College for a year and show them, like I’ve always done.”

It won’t hurt that his high school coach, Tom Karlo, is also the South All-Star coach, and you can bet the combination that racked up all those yards the last two years will be a major weapon in this game.

Asked what Brooks’ strength is as a receiver, Karlo said: “He has great hands, runs tight routes, has speed — everything. Add to that his knowledge of the game and the fact he’s fearless, the only thing I can say is I believe he’s a result of San Diego being overlooked (by D1 schools).

“Colleges are staying closer to home these days, and there are a lot fewer coming to the games. I think a lot of Division I schools get as far south as Los Angeles and stop looking. I have several players on this All-Star team that I think are Division I players.”

Although he has been the Foothillers’ varsity coach only the last two years, he is sold on Brooks.

“I’m really impressed with his knowledge. He could coach high school right now,” Karlo said. “It’s no surprise that his three best games were against our three toughest opponents. He’s a big-game player.”

Brooks says while he has improved every aspect of his game, there is still plenty of room for more.

“I’d say my strength is yards after the catch,” he said. “Catching the ball is just the start. It’s hard to explain, but I can feel the presence of the defensive back.”

He’d rather feel the presence of a D1 recruiter after Friday night’s game, but he will do whatever it takes to make it at the next level ... just as he did to play on the high school team.

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