Keelon Brookins has had five surgeries during his football playing career dating back to high school. He's had doubts about his future come with each surgery. And he's had teammates and even coaches tell him he shouldn't be playing anymore. But Brookins overcame that adversity and is now hoping he'll find himself in an NFL camp after a strong Pro Day performance.
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A former Rivals four-star recruit, the St. Paul, Minnesota, native began his career at Wisconsin. Injuries, from concussions to knees to a hernia, made it challenging to earn meaningful reps. Brookins transferred to FCS Northern Iowa in 2017 as a graduate transfer and began to excel in his outside linebacker/strong safety hybrid role halfway through the season as a Panther.
The 5-foot-11, 206-pounder went on to have 31 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions as Brookins was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's All-Newcomer team.
Brookins participated in UNI's Pro Day on March 25 and caught some eyes with his 4.33 40-yard dash time along with a 10-4 broad jump and a 34-inch vertical.
Some Scouts had me at 4.33 agents as well. To God be the glory ????????@DraftDiamonds 34Vertical
10’4 Broad Jump
Y’all time it yourself pic.twitter.com/egT9Y0j5Tw
— Keelon Brookins (@KFlipBrookins8) March 26, 2018
“There have been some teams that have reached out, especially after the Pro Day," Brookins told HERO Sports. "They’re doing a lot of research on me and trying to figure out why I didn't play as much this season. But I know I do have a chip on my shoulder. If I do get into a camp, I’m going to make sure they picked me up for the right reasons and they won’t regret picking me up.”
Brookins was asked to do it all at UNI: blitz, set the edge, cover receivers downfield and contribute on special teams. He was playing his best football at the end of his senior season, making it a long, but worthwhile journey he hopes continues at the next level.
“I had a lot of doubts," Brookins said about that journey. "I had doubts this past season. I wasn't playing and I thought about just giving it up. I had doubts at Wisconsin because my teammates and even some coaching staff said I shouldn't play. I do remember having strong doubts about myself. But I surrounded myself with great people who brought me out of it.”
To listen to the full interview, listen to the HERO Sports FCS Podcast below: