Brooks doesn’t wait long to make big impact

The freshman back ran for 82 yards on 10 carries Saturday, scoring two times.

Quarterback Mitch Leidner avoids a tackle at the Homecoming game in TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday where the Gophers defeated Ohio 27-24.

Joe Sulik

Quarterback Mitch Leidner avoids a tackle at the Homecoming game in TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday where the Gophers defeated Ohio 27-24.

Ryan Falk

University of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill offered plenty of praise to freshman Shannon Brooks coming into the season, and the running back showed why on Saturday against Ohio University.
 
Brooks finished the game with 82 yards on only 10 carries with two touchdowns — the second securing a homecoming victory for the Gophers with only 30 seconds remaining.
 
Brooks’ running stood out earlier in the fall during a team scrimmage at Concordia University. Saturday’s game reminded quarterback Mitch Leidner of that day.
 
“He was running everybody over, juking everybody out — and seeing him back out there today, given a good opportunity, he was doing the same thing,” Leidner said.
Brooks hadn’t seen much game action until Saturday, only seeing the field against Colorado State on a play that resulted in a fumble. But Brooks said that play didn’t affect
him against the Bobcats.
 
“You can’t let one play define you as a player,” Brooks said. ”You’ve got to bounce back and keep a positive attitude.”
 
Bounce back is exactly what Brooks did. He looked impressive right from the start, taking his third carry of the game 40 yards for a touchdown. 
 
He showed his speed and shiftiness on the play, making a couple cuts before finding an opening. He then outran the entire Bobcats defense. 
 
Brooks finished off his impressive performance with the game-winning touchdown. With the Gophers down 24-20 late in the fourth quarter, they handed the ball to Brooks,
who ran up the middle from 3 yards out to put the Gophers ahead for good.
 
Minnesota has leaned on the running game on offense under Kill, and Brooks adds another young option in the backfield for the Gophers, along with redshirt freshman Rodney Smith.
 
Smith called himself Brooks’ older brother after the game Saturday, and the two roomed together the night before the game.
 
“It was more exciting watching him score his first touchdown than when I scored mine,” Smith said.
 
The connection between the two showed on Saturday, with Smith adding 94 rushing yards for the Gophers. Brooks said he’s been watching Smith all season, and it helped prepare him for the game.
 
“I watch him so I can see what I can do better because I’m coming in, and I’m still learning.” Brooks said.
 
Though the freshman does have more to learn, Kill joked after the game that he still should have played Brooks earlier.
 
“He’s going to be a great player,” Kill said.