Texans battling to replace standout Brooks
The University of Arizona football team is trying to find another starting free safety who will generally be in the right place at the right time.
The Wildcats want to find a leader who spurs on the troops and makes the plays when they count.
Arizona is looking for the next Darrell Brooks.
“Darrell was so valuable and players like him are so hard to find,” UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. “It is hard to find a safety good in the run game and the pass game. There are not a whole bunch of them out there.”
The Wildcats have two promising players in the mix, although Dominic Patrick, who will be a junior in the fall, and sophomore-to-be Brandon Tatum are relatively inexperienced at the position.
They have the pressure of replacing Brooks, who led the team in tackles the past two season and was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection a year ago in his senior season. Brooks had 295 career tackles.
“I try not to think about it as if I need to replace Darrell,” Patrick said. “I think of it as trying to come out here and get better.”
Free safety is the only open position in a secondary that is arguably one of the best in the Pac-10.
Patrick, from Houston, has already put his two cents into the battle for the starting spot, or make that two hits in the open scrimmages this spring.
He knocked the ball out of tailback’s Chris Henry’s hands to force a fumble, and then belted tight end Travis Bell.
“I want to do it all,” Patrick said. “I want to be able to intercept the ball. I want to be able to hit people. I want to be an all-around player. I’m just trying to make a play.”
Each player brings something different to the field, Mark Stoops said:
● Tatum: “Brandon is very athletic. He is an athletic, big, rangy player who covers a lot of ground in the pass defense, but he is probably a little less experienced.”
● Patrick: “He understands the run fits. He needs to improve with the competition. He has to improve on his range and ball skills.
Tatum, from Fort Worth, Texas, said his seven younger cousins inspire him.
“They want to see me do good,” he said. “All my cousins want to see me do big things.”
The Wildcats also have junior college transfer Nate Ness entering the fray in the fall. Ness picked off 18 passes during his two-year career at El Camino (Calif.) College.