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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hall of Fame Journey: Chapter 2

In the second leg of our tour through Derrick Brooks’ Hall of Fame career, we explore his college journey at Florida State University, from recruitment to National Championship.


It was obvious every college football team in the nation wanted Derrick Brooks, but only one team was able to land him. That team was the Florida State Seminoles.

Brooks' long-awaited announcement of where he would attend college took place his school football banquet. He had asked Florida State's Defensive Coordinator, Mickey Andrews, to attend. Andrews wondered if he should even bother to show, considering he was highly recruited by Florida and Auburn as well.

To his hesitancy, Derrick responded, "I'll tell you what coach, if you don't show up, I won't go to Florida State." And on that night, Derrick's decision was final. He would be going to Tallahassee to join the Seminoles in the fall. Jumping from high school football to Division I can be a frightening and overwhelming process for a young kid making the transition. Luckily for Derrick, Florida State had a program to help their incoming players to take that step into a big university and the spotlight. Billie Reardon would serve as one of the "Team Moms" during his years at FSU and became an important part to his transition and success. "She really is that mom figure," said Derrick.

Not only was he transitioning to college football, he was also changing positions as a freshman. Brooks started as a strong safety, a position he played all four years at his high school in Pensacola. He would then make the switch to linebacker and the position change tested his mental toughness.

Remembering one day specifically when Coach Andrews pushed him to his limit, Derrick says, He tells me if I go get beat again going forward, he said just run out of the gate, go down to the Greyhound Bus Station, tell them coach Andrews sent you, and to charge my credit card, and you get a one-way ticket to Pensacola."

Derrick's response? Check out the full video below to see what happened next:

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