WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Blessed with a powerful boot, Airport Eagle Paxton Brooks ranks as the nation's fifth-best kicker by ESPN. He's Tennessee-bound next month, and will officially sign with the Vols on Dec. 20.
Before he heads to Rocky Top in January, he has one more stop to make, playing in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4, in Orlando, FL.
"It's a huge honor to be involved in a game that has such a legacy," Brooks said.
Paxton's journey into football started on the pitch as a soccer player. In middle school, his brother's best friend, who was a kicker at the time at Airport High school, encouraged the young Brooks to try football.
Brooks felt an instant connection to football. He knew right then what sport he wanted to pursue.
"It was weird," Brooks said. "[It was] tough for sure, telling [soccer] coaches [I had] for a long time and that helped me out."
Brooks knows it was the right choice. It's open many doors for him, including the chance to punt and kick for the University of Tennessee.
"Going up to Tennessee and being around some of the fans I really feel at home," Brooks said.
And he really likes the new Vols coach in Jeremy Pruitt. The Alabama defensive coordinator was recently named as the Vols leading man. Brooks met coach Pruitt over the weekend during his official visit to Tennessee.
"You can really tell how genuine of a person he is," said Brooks. "He has a teaching background and likes the idea of being a teacher."
Brooks loves to learn and compete. Especially, with his kicking pals in the Carolina's. He's trained with a group that calls themselves the "SPECIAL OPS," which includes some of the top kickers from this region.
"Good to be around those guys," Brooks said. "Kicking again them, you see where you match up against them."
As valuable as it's been competing with his friends, Brooks thanks his dad for all the help along the way to achieve his goals on the gridiron.
"Can't say enough to appreciate what he did for me to help me reach my dreams," Brooks said.