COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A path paved in determination.
Newly added Gamecock junior wide receiver Jalen Brooks was officially placed on the roster less than a week before camp began.
He spent the past two years playing division two college football at Wingate. Brooks welcomes an opportunity to compete against the best in the SEC, and prove he belongs.
“I just knew that walking in that I was being looked at as a Division II receiver,” said Brooks. I was going to be looked down on.”
Almost instantly, Brooks erased any doubt in camp about his ability to perform on an elite level.
“Jalen Brooks had a great day,” said Gamecock quarterback Collin Hill after day two of camp.
Hill is one of many Gamecocks noticing Brooks fitting right in.
“I just knew I had to prove myself,” exclaimed Brooks. “I want to continue to do that.”
In Jalen’s corner to land in Columbia was Blythewood Bengals head football coach Jason Seidel. He coached Brooks at Hickory Ridge near Charlotte, North Carolina. And, Seidel knew Brooks had the tools to play at the highest collegiate level by his senior season.
“He became bigger, faster, and stronger,” added Seidel. “His senior year was amazing. I just couldn’t get anyone to bite on him.”
“I had the opportunity to go division one out of high school, but I wanted to make sure my mom would not have to pay for college,” said Brooks.
Brooks opted to stay near home at Wingate to play division two football.
“And, I said if you really feel that you’re supposed to go to a bigger school, go to Wingate and tear it up,” said Seidel. “You should dominate, and your play should show that.”
Brooks did. After two seasons at Wingate, he transferred a level up to Tarleton State in Texas. He spent the past spring semester there before re-entering the transfer portal for family reasons.
“Being there for my family,” said Brooks. “My mom, she’s a single parent, always good to have extra support around.”
Brooks also mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic as the driving force behind needing to be closer to home. His Plan A, transfer to North Carolina A&T. Seidel did a little leg work to create other opportunities. Duke and South Carolina quickly became interested.
The Blue Devils even received a ringing endorsement from their former quarterback, current New York Giant, Daniel Jones. Brooks spent some time this summer working with the NFL QB.
“It helped me step up my game,” said Brooks after working out with NFL players.
“Daniel gave him the stamp of approval,” added Seidel. “I would go get this kid. They [Duke] went after him heavy.”
But it was Carolina’s scholarship offer from head coach Will Muschamp that Brooks ultimately snagged.
“Coach Seidel was with me when he offered me,” said Brooks. “It was a blessing. Once he said those words, it was amazing.”
Both Seidel and Brooks hope this story inspires younger athletes to stay motivated in the classroom and on the field to create your dream opportunity. Because Brooks finally has his, right here in Columbia.