LANHAM, Md. - We have all heard the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Never is that more true than on National Signing Day.
For DuVal High School’s Antoine Brooks, the chance to play college football almost passed him by until the Maryland Terrapins came along.
“I will be attending the University of Maryland for the next four years,” Brooks announced in front of family and friends in the school’s gym.
But the fact that Brooks is even able to walk to the podium to make his college announcement made this even more remarkable.
On October 12, Brooks suffered a leg injury so gruesome that it silenced the DuVal crowd that day. His foot was facing 90 degrees in the wrong direction.
“I tried to get up, but I saw my foot was all the way to the right,” said Brooks. “So I just sat there, I was calm, no tears.”
Brooks’ eyes were dry after suffering a compound fracture of his ankle and a fractured left wrist. After five hours of surgery, he was itching to get back on the field.
“On the football field, when the accident happened, he said didn’t want to play no more,” recalled Antoine Brooks Sr. “By the time he got to the hospital, he said I’ll just play defense.”
Defense is where Brooks excels. He held 20 scholarship offers to play linebacker at the next level. But after the injury, Brooks and his family found out just how fleeting Division I football offers can be.
“Some of them did drop off or lost interest,” he said.
Then just three days before signing day, Maryland offered him a scholarship.
“That's a kid from our backyard,” said Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin. “He is a great person, a great player. He needed someone, something, a program to believe in him.”
“Maryland just gave me a chance to play on the big stage and I’m ready to play,” said Brooks.
He will be ready to play in front of his father who won't have to travel far to watch his son play. Antoine Brooks Sr. works at the University of Maryland.
The prep star should be ready to go this fall and he is ready to prove the doubters wrong. Brooks might have a chip on his shoulder, but he doesn't show it. He loves hard work down to its smallest rewards.
“I like sweating,” he smiled. “That’s what I like to do.”