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Summer vacation turns into college commitment for North's Brooks

File Photo North Gwinnett's Jalen Brooks looks to make a play during a game last season. Brooks has made a commitment to play college football at the University of Maryland.

File Photo North Gwinnett's Jalen Brooks looks to make a play during a game last season. Brooks has made a commitment to play college football at the University of Maryland.

SUWANEE -- Jalen Brooks' college recruitment was non-existent two months ago.

The North Gwinnett linebacker didn't hold any scholarship offers as he went into spring practice.

Then North head coach Bob Sphire sent out film of Brooks and the rest of the rising seniors.

Brooks picked up an offer from Ball State and then started getting interest from BCS schools, including Maryland.

On the second phone call with the ACC program, the Terps offered the linebacker a scholarship.

"They called me and said you're an under-the-radar person," Brooks said. "We liked what we saw."

Brooks visited the College Park, Md., school two weeks ago and liked what he saw on his trip as well. Brooks committed to the ACC school on the spot before visiting prestigious schools like Princeton, Harvard and Yale.

"I really like the campus. It felt like North Gwinnett and I liked the facilities," Brooks said. "The position they want me at is the same at North Gwinnett. I felt comfortable with the defense and the school."

Brooks' trip to Maryland was part of a two-week summer vacation and a busy summer college tour. Brooks visited nearly a dozen college and universities over the last two months, including Wake Forest, N.C. State, Mississippi State and Kentucky.

He began his most recent trip to Maryland, followed by a trip to the Ivy League schools.

"All the Ivy League schools wanted me and you have to apply for early admission to go there," Brooks said.

Brooks concluded his two-week vacation with trips to Chicago and New York. While visiting the cities he mulled his commitment to Maryland and made it official on Monday when he called head coach Randy Edsall to confirm his decision.

"I just felt a good vibe (about the school)," Brooks said. "I know it's a rebuilding program, but I want to be a part of that."

Brooks chose Maryland over offers from Air Force, Navy, Wofford and Ball State.

"I just liked the campus better," Brooks said. "I want to major in business and they have a good business program."

Brooks maintains a 3.6 GPA and scored 1,850 on the SAT.

As an outside linebacker last year, Brooks made 49 tackles for the Bulldogs. North is 33-4 the last three years, including 10-2 and a trip to the second round of the playoffs last season. Maryland was 2-10 in Edsall's first year as head coach.

Brooks isn't highly rated by recruiting services. But the linebacker thinks it's more important what you can do on the field than if you're rated a four or five-star prospect.

"Someone is always watching you. I wasn't always getting recruited, but someone is always watching you," Brooks said. "Just because you are not a four- or five-star recruit, you can still get noticed.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Brooks holds school records in his weight class for bench press (280 pounds), squat (445) and power clean (295). He also runs a 4.65-second 40-yard dash.

Brooks also placed fourth at the Class AAAAA traditional state wrestling tournament in the 195-pound weight class.

"I want to win state next year," Brooks said.

Brooks is the 14th Gwinnett County football player to make a college commitment this summer. He joins teammate Donnie Miles, who committed to North Carolina.

"I think it will be fun to be rivals in college," Brooks said.