By Dylan Scott
On Sunday, the Vols landed another “what could be,” immediate-impact player in the 2021 recruiting class. Dylan Brooks, a five-star defensive end out of Roanoke, Alabama, has the potential to bring some much-needed athleticism to the Vols’ pass rush — especially considering the recent departure of edge-rusher Darrell Taylor to graduation.
Brooks’ talent is fully apparent according to those who have had the opportunity to watch the 5-star. One of which is 247Sports’ Charles Power, who is very high on the extremely coveted Tennessee commit. “(He is) quick and explosive off the ball. Shows the ability to transition speed and power to overwhelm offensive linemen at the point of attack,” writes Power. “(He) plays fast and tracks down plays in pursuit with impressive speed. Disengages from the block and looks to embrace contact.”
This type of play could be monumental for the Tennessee defense. In the SEC, opponents are known to recruit big and nasty offensive linemen; Brooks could be the perfect counter to that. His long arms and speed would allow him the advantage when rushing the edge, but his power and will for contact will allow a bull rush to show who owns the line.
Not only will Brooks give some much-needed help on the defensive line, but Power also lists that he can drop back and help at the linebacker position. While the Vols have picked up multiple high-caliber recruits for the linebacker position, such as the Whitehaven Trio, and are bringing back what is likely to be the heart of the defense in Henry To’oto’o, this would allow some wiggle room in utilizing assets. Brooks is not only a brute that can control what happens inside the box, but can also drop back and cover from sideline to sideline when needed. This will create depth at the position, and allow the Vols’ recruiting staff to spend more time on other position groups.
Just like any other player, Brooks will need to get to work in the strength program when he arrives, but he comes in with an already solid base at 6’5”, 220lbs. With Brooks’ strength, speed, and tenacity, in addition to the rest of the pieces along Tennessee’s defense, the Vols’ opponents are going to have some major issues trying to put together an offense from the line of scrimmage.
However, Powers is by no means the only one high on Brooks. VolQuest spoke to Larry Strain, Brooks’ high school head coach, about the young 5-star’s talent. “He’s really a three-down rush guy. He’s so quick off the ball,” said the Handley High School head coach. “He’s long and lean. So athletic. That’s the reason why everybody is after him. He can bend so well. He’s so flexible. He’s got such great upside.”
While the talent possessed by the young defensive end is extremely impressive, his head coach still says he has work to do. “His skills are by no means complete,” Strain told VolQuest. “He’s still to be developed, but he’s got such high upside. He has all the attributes you want to bring to the table. He’s just scratching the surface. He really doesn’t know how good he could be. That’s what it really boils down to. If he works at it. He’s just got to keep working.”
The talent possessed by Brooks is incredible, and he will likely have a great career in Knoxville, but as with any great football player, he just has to continue to improve — and with his determination, there’s no doubt that he will.
(Photograph by Hudl)