Patience paying off for Zac Brooks


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Zac Brooks celebrates a touchdown run earlier this season
Zac Brooks celebrates a touchdown run earlier this season

CLEMSON - Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Running Back (2012 - 2015)
#24 6-0, 200
Jonesboro, AR

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arrived at Clemson as one of the top running backs in the nation and the No. 1 player coming out of Arkansas. But instead of making an immediate impact on the program, Brooks has had to display a lot of patience during his career with the Tigers.

That is paying off this season as Brooks has moved back up the depth chart after redshirting last year because of an injury to sit second behind Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 210
Loganville, GA

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.

“With the injuries, it slows you down, and it helps you think, and it helps you realize what it’s all about,” Brooks said. “I’m fine with where I am. I’m fine with what I do. I’m fine with the opportunities that I have. You always wish for more, but I’m going to take advantage of everything I’m given.”

Brooks has done that through the first five games of the Clemson season, rushing only 12 times but gaining 106 yards, an average of 8.8 yards per carry.

He had a 25-yard touchdown run against Wofford and added a 35-yarder against Georgia Tech.

“I haven’t done anything special, just continue to be me and continue to work hard and continue to take advantage of every opportunity that I have,” Brooks said. “Opportunities don’t come every day. There’s not a lot of those, so when you get them, you’ve got to take advantage. And I felt like I’ve waited for my opportunities to take them when they come.”

Brooks likely expected to have many more opportunities earlier in his career. He rushed for 119 yards in eight games as a freshman and had 246 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore.

In the first game that season, he caught a 31-yard touchdown pass against Georgia to help the Tigers to a win over the fifth-ranked Bulldogs.

But last year, Brooks suffered a foot injury in the preseason and missed the entire season. He said he’s “as good as it’s going to get” with his health and is gaining his timing back on the field.

“It’s just a game; you’ve got to get the feel of it,” Brooks said. “Playing running back and with the type of running game that we have, you’ve just got to get the feel of it and the timing and all that good stuff, so it took awhile just to get the feel of it. I didn’t get the meat of the physicalness because I had a lot of little stuff going on, so I kind of missed out on all the fast, fast motions of the game. So that would be the only thing is the reason why it took so long.”

With Brooks out last year, Gallman stepped into the starting role, and he has shined in that spotlight. Brooks said he’s happy to see Gallman’s growth as a player.

“I’m real proud of him. I’ve watched him come in. I’ve watched him grow. I’ve watched him put in the work, and he deserves what he’s getting,” Brooks said. “I wish him more. I wish him the best. It’s always awesome to see a brother do good, somebody that you put in work with, somebody that you’ve seen earn it. And he’s earned what he’s got, and he’s done a great job.”

Now a junior after the redshirt season, Brooks sees himself as a leader of the running back group, along with graduate C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Sr. Running Back
#21 5-10, 202
Clemson, SC

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.

“We push each other. I try to keep the guys focused. I push them all because I’ve been here the longest, and I’m seen as a leader of the group, me and C.J. we’re the seniors of the group,” Brooks said. “And we’ve gotta keep the guys focused, and we push each other. During the offseason, during camp, everybody does their part to help and aid and encourage one another. We see each other as like a flock of geese. Every geese has his part in leading the pack. Everybody has his season. On the field, Wayne goes out there first, so he’s the first impression of us group of running backs. He represents us, and we take pride in how we represent one another.”

*Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.

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