The Return of Shannon Brooks
The Golden Gophers will be getting a key player back for the first time this season. Redshirt Senior Shannon Brooks will be making his 2019 debut on Saturday when the Gophers open conference play against Purdue.
All I can say is that I am extremely excited to see Brooks back, and I think all Minnesota fans would agree. He is a strong, tough and quick running back that brings a powerful presence to the offense that the Gophers can use during the season especially in the conference opener against the Boilermakers.
Brooks was out due to a right knee injury suffered in last year's Indiana game, which was his first game back from an injury he suffered in Spring 2018 to his left knee. In his lone appearance last year against the Hoosiers, Brooks rushed for 154 yards on 22 carries, averaging 7 yards per carry.
On top of that, Brooks' 2017 season was cut short due to injury, only appearing in six games. But now, despite struggles with injuries, the fifth year senior is ready to go once again and just in time to take the field against a team he has been extremely effective against.
To say Brooks has been successful against Purdue is a bit of an understatement. In only two appearances against the Boilermakers, Brooks has rushed for 292 yards on 35 carries. That is over 8 yards per carry. In addition, his career high came against Purdue in 2015 when he had 176 yards on the ground. He seems to find his stride against Purdue, and I sure hope he finds it again to help lead the Gophers to a 1-0 start in Big Ten play.
Brooks career stats are also pretty impressive for having dealt with injuries and only playing two full seasons. In 29 career games, Brooks has rushed for 1,882 yards averaging over 5 yards per carry with 18 touchdowns. And to think if Brooks never suffered such devastating injuries that yardage could have been much higher.
Brooks joins a roster with other talented backs including sixth year, super senior Rodney Smith and Redshirt Sophomore Mohamed Ibrhaim, who were also recovering from injuries. But Smith and Ibrahim are also expected to play this Saturday, giving Fleck and the Gophers three solid options at running back. And beyond this Saturday, if all three running backs can stay healthy (knock on wood), the Gophers will have an advantage by having three talented and experienced running backs on the depth chart going forward.
Even though Brooks has been injured ridden, he seems ready to play again. In the Gophers first three games, I noticed him on the sideline fully dressed without a helmet, signaling he was not going to play, however, he was standing, jumping and moving around without pain.
I am only hoping Brooks comes out of the gates hot and impacts the game right away. He has to be starving to get back out on the field, get carries and score some points. And after the first three weeks, the Gophers are 3-0, but their performance has looked very shady against some lower end talent. Brooks may be the spark the Gophers need to improve and rise up to the level of their Big Ten opponents at just the right time.