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Cincinnati Bearcats Football Season in Review: Curtis Brooks

Brooks had never recorded a tackle for loss before 2019 but he had 7.5 this past season, including his first two career sacks.

NCAA Football: Birmingham Bowl-Boston College vs Cincinnati Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 40 tackles
  • 7.5 tackles for loss
  • 2.0 sacks
  • 4 quarterback hits/hurries
  • 2 pass breakups
  • 1 fumble recovery

For a defensive lineman who only started in two games in 2019, Curtis Brooks sure made the most of his opportunities. The junior has been at Cincinnati for a while and has consistently gotten on the field, with 12 appearances in 2017 and 2018 after a redshirt 2016 season. However, before 2019, he didn’t have a ton to show for that playing time in terms of statistical accumulation.

That narrative changed this past fall as he served an expanded role in the defensive line rotation, helping shore up the interior after the departure of Cortez Broughton. In all 14 games, from UCLA to Boston College, Brooks was there, even if it wasn’t always as a primary option up front. Even without many starting chances, he still tallied the seventh-most tackles on the team (40), and every player above him except for Jarell White was a full-time starter for all 14 games.

If standard tackles aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Brooks did plenty elsewhere on the stat sheet. He recorded 7.5 tackles for loss, tying for fifth on the team with White and Elijah Ponder. He also picked up his first two career sacks, with both coming against UConn, and added in four quarterback hits/hurries for good measure.

In addition to causing trouble in terms of creating pressure, Brooks also made plays on the ball. He had two pass breakups and recovered a fumble, with the latter coming in a fairly crucial spot in the season-opening win against UCLA.

When you put it all together, its easy to say that Brooks had a career season. His totals in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks all smashed his previous bests, especially considering he had not recorded a sack or a tackle for loss prior to 2019. Even if he was only able to start a game twice, Brooks proved that his stock is rising as he prepares for his senior season in 2020.

The Best of the Best

Sept. 7, 2019 at Ohio State

This was a game we’d all like to forget, but let’s give some credit to Brooks, who put up four tackles — including one for a loss — against one of 2019’s best teams.

Nov. 2, 2019 at East Carolina

This game nearly ended in disaster but Brooks did his part in helping the Bearcats escape, tallying three solo tackles, including one for loss.

Nov. 9, 2019 vs. UConn

I’m sure the Huskies don’t want to see any Bearcat in the near future, but Brooks should be one of the players they fear the most. He recorded two sacks and five total tackles during UC’s dominant win.

Nov. 16, 2019 at USF

Brooks tied a season-best with four solo tackles and five total stops, including a half tackle for loss.

Nov. 28, 2019 at Memphis

Brooks repeated the same stat line from the USF against the Tigers.

For Next Year

As you might have noticed, many of Brooks’ best games occurred later in the season. That’s also when he began getting some run as a starter, filling such a role against East Carolina and Boston College. Brooks doesn’t have any say in how the depth chart shakes out next season, but he can ensure that he gets an elevated spot by building on his strong 2019 campaign. If he maintains the trajectory he set this season in terms of setting personal bests, he could be among UC’s most productive players next season.