‘Football means hope’: Brooks reflects on career at USD, overcoming obstacles
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‘Football means hope’: Brooks reflects on career at USD, overcoming obstacles

Football has been a source of happiness and expression for senior wide receiver Alonge Brooks.

Brooks, originally from Compton, Cali., transferred to USD from Riverside City College in California in 2016.

“We rarely lost, so it was a really good team,” Brooks said. “We had a lot of good kids who went on to big schools. It was a good experience as far as me getting better.”

Brooks started playing football when he was about five years old.

“It was my source of happiness,” he said.

Adjusting to a new team

After RCC, Brooks was accepted to USD on scholarship.

“I had a lot of offers, but I wanted to come here because I thought it would be one of the best opportunities I had,” Brooks said.

Head coach Bob Nielson came in the same time Brooks did, and said he’s grown as a player since 2016.

“When you come in as a transfer, there’s always an adjustment,” Nielson said. “I think over the course of the year, he’s gotten himself ingrained more as part of the team and also has improved as a player.”

Brooks said he’s looking to play harder than he ever has.

“This year is starting off slow, but I think that by the end of the year, I’ll be pretty close to where I want to be,” he said.

Brooks said he has a close relationship with his team.

“My relationship with my teammates is more like brotherhood,” he said. “We stick together on and off the field.”

Brooks said he wants to “go out with a bang” before graduating this spring.

“I think I’m embarking on my experience and turning over to being a lot better,” he said. “I want to walk away and do something USD has never done.”

Achieving greatness

Brooks said he’s had some good achievements so far in his football career.

“I would say taking my junior college team to the playoffs, here scoring two touchdowns here and over 100 yards, catching a ball between my legs and reaching the top 10 (have been my greatest achievements),” he said.

During Brooks’ Coyote career, he has 489 receiving yards and has scored eight touchdowns. Through five games this season, he’s on track to have more yards and touchdowns than last season as well.

Nielson said Brooks’ greatest strength is his build.

“He has good size for that position and has really good straight line speed,” Nielson said. “His strengths are in his physical attributes.”

Some goals Brooks has for his USD football career are to run 1,000 yards and make 14 touchdowns.

“And to make sure I do everything I can do to contribute to us going to the championship,” he said.

After beating Youngstown State last Saturday, the Coyotes are now 5-0.

“So far as a team I feel like we’ve been doing a pretty good job with team effort,” he said. “As far as individual, these last few games I didn’t really produce much, so I’m planning to take it to another level and put more into it statistically. Now games are going to get a little tougher and it’s going to be a lot different since we’re in a
conference now.”

Overcoming adversity

Brooks said one thing that contributed to him continuing football was his experiences at RCC and “basically being homeless.”

“Out of high school, I didn’t have any scholarships, then I went to junior college and I was playing auto position, and then I started playing wide receiver again and then I made a big change in junior college,” he said. “I kind of became homeless and had to live house to house and couch to couch in order to make it to practice every day.”

Despite this, Brooks said football got him through this difficult time.

“Until I got those offers, it was really basically football practice and finding a way to survive,” he said. “The reason I did it was because the ultimate goal was being here right now.”

Brooks said USD gave him opportunities to continue his career.

“(USD allowed me to) have an opportunity to go to the NFL and to take my game to the next level and playing in a good conference,” he said. “Coming to USD helped a lot within my life.”

After college, Brooks said he wants to join the NFL, specifically the Rams, and serve as a mentor for others in the same position he was in.

“I want to be a coach and also I want to be a businessman and basically help those from the same hood I’m from just make it out — be an inspiration,” he said.

Nielson said seeing Brooks graduate will be an adjustment.

“Obviously, one of the things we want to make sure is that all of our guys graduate and Alonge is a guy that is on track to do that,” Nielson said. “We have three seniors in that position group who will all finish their eligibility this year, and it’ll be a difficult group to replace.”

Brooks said football has helped him in many aspects of his life.

“Football means happiness, football means everything. Football is my life,” he said. “When I had nothing, it was all I had. When I was homeless, when my brother died, football was all I had. At first, I didn’t have a dollar to my name, but getting a scholarship is what got me out of the situation I was from before I got here. Football means hope, it means change for my life.”