TALLAHASSEE -- Nothing is good enough for Terrence Brooks. The Seminoles’ senior safety played hundreds of snaps last season, made 51 tackles and even intercepted a couple of passes, but he’s consumed by two plays against Clemson.
“I gave up a touchdown last year,” Brooks said, a disgusted expression washing across his face. “And to me — and some fans I guess — I feel like it overshadows the rest of my play and how many plays I made.”
Nevermind the fact Brooks has been a revelation at Florida State. Nevermind that he’s one of the first players his coach points to when asked about work ethic. Brooks is hung up on the mistakes. Heading into his second full year as a starter, those two plays are sustaining the fire Brooks’ recruitment started.
Coming out of high school in Dunnellon, Terrence garnered just a three-star prospect rating. He took exception. From the moment he arrived in Tallahassee, Brooks has practically lived in the Florida State film room, he’s packed on more than 30 pounds of muscle and he has beat out more highly recruited players to become a key component of the Seminoles secondary.
“[Terrence is] a great guy, he cares very much about not only being a good player but being a good person,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He works at his game, he works at being a good guy, it matters to him.
“When he makes mistakes, it bothers him. He’s really turned himself into a very good football player.”
Mistakes don’t just bother Brooks though, they haunt him. Much as his game against Clemson (where he led the Seminoles in tackles, but was beat twice in the red zone) has done since late last September.
“I rarely ever give up touchdowns,” said Brooks, a twinge of dejection flickering in his voice. “I think I gave up one in high school, too, and I swear it will never happen again. But just going through that, I mean I could see how fans would look at me and some people would talk. Those things count to me.”
But that feeling does more than just count to Brooks, it douses his competitive fire in gasoline.
If anything, Clemson provided the 6-0, 200-pound safety canisters of accelerant to dump on a competitive fire that was volatile enough already.
That competitive fire has never more evident than it is these days on the Florida State practice fields. With the start of the 2013 season looming, Brooks’ intensity is unrivaled and his leadership is unquestioned.
“He’s focused and locked in,” Fisher said. “When he comes, he’s coming for business.”
With FSU transitioning into a far more aggressive, attacking style of defense this season — thanks to new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt — Brooks finds himself in a system that plays more to his strengths and will provide him with more opportunities to make plays.
He feels like a totally different player. But his goal is the same. Nothing is ever good enough for Brooks. He wants perfection.
“I know I’m playing a lot more in the field, I’m able to roam a lot more and show my range. But for me, I’m pretty much just working on being damn near perfect,” said Brooks, conviction oozing from each and every syllable. “I’m not settling for less this year, I’m going to have a way better year [this season].
“I don’t want to have anyone upset about my play because I know how I can play.”