Carter high on Brooks' study habits, leadership

Arkansas defensive back Greg Brooks Jr. (left) breaks up a pass Thursday, March 11, 2021, intended for receiver Jaquayln Crawford during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — It is not at all unusual for Arkansas cornerbacks coach Sam Carter to check his phone in the middle of the night and find text messages from a player.

In fact, he has come to expect them from defensive back Greg Brooks. The 5-11 junior from Louisiana is determined to build on his 39-tackle, 2-interception season in 2020, and being consumed by film and his playbook will help him do that.

“He's a football player,” Carter said Sunday after Day 3 of preseason practice. “A lot of people don't know Greg Brooks' dad played in the NFL, so he's from a football family. He just studies football all day. He loves it.

“Sometimes he texts me at 3 a.m., 2 a.m, like, 'Coach, you up?' I'm like, 'Man, I'm trying to go to sleep.' He's just asking me questions about different formations."

Brooks was thrown into the fire at Arkansas from the jump, starting all 12 games of his freshman season at nickel. His 515 snaps were the most of any freshman for the Razorbacks in 2019, and he used the lessons learned from a trying first year to elevate his play as a sophomore.

After making eight more starts at nickel in Year 1 under Sam Pittman, Brooks is now considered a veteran in the secondary, and one of the Razorbacks’ more important pieces.

Through three days of training camp, Carter has been impressed by Brooks’ ability to lead.

“(He is), by far, probably one of our leaders in the room. He's unbelievable,” Carter said. “Right now, him and (receiver Treylon) Burks are going at it back and forth.

“As long as he has the confidence, Greg is probably one of the best DBs in the country."

Hudson Clark, the former walk-on who is a projected starter at cornerback, described Brooks as a bit of a Jack of all trades. He has full confidence in Brooks to cover, tackle and make the play when given the chance to blitz off the edge.

Brooks and Joe Foucha finished tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (3) among defensive backs last season, and he was the only player in the secondary to register multiple quarterback hurries.

All of that makes him a perfect fit at nickel, cornerback Montaric Brown said.

“I feel like Greg, he can do it all,” said Brown, another projected starter. “He can go against the No. 1 receiver, anything. He’s got speed, good ball skills and I feel like he can do anything.

“He can guard anybody at (receiver). I feel like that’s a good spot for him.”