Devin Brooks had always been a big guy, but by the time he started football practice at Clackamas as a freshman in the fall of 2020, he had surged past 360 pounds.
“Quarantine really wasn't doing much for me,” he said.
Still, underneath it all, Clackamas coach James Holan saw something special in Brooks.
“He was huge and he was definitely out of shape, but even when he was that size, you could just see that he was an incredible athlete,” Holan said. “He had great feet, incredible eyes, just all the things that you're really looking for in a stud offensive lineman.”
Less than two years later, Brooks has undergone a dramatic transformation. At 6-foot-4, 282 pounds, he has become one of the most hotly recruited juniors on the West Coast.
For the Class of 2024, Brooks is rated as the No. 10 guard in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 16 interior offensive lineman in the country by 247Sports.com. He has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Miami, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.
“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to play at the Division I level,” Brooks said. “But going into my sophomore year, I really wasn't expecting to get the attention and offers that were coming. Once it happened, I kind of just switched gears. I've just been grinding and wanting to better myself.”
Since the spring, Brooks has lowered his 40-yard time from 5.7 seconds to 5.3. He continues to reshape his body, recording personal bests in the weight room this summer, up 50 pounds in the bench press and 80 pounds in the squat.
Brooks credits his training with Holan, a lineman on Linfield College's 2004 national championship team, and with New Athlete in Vancouver for the change since his freshman year.
“Just looking back on that moment, it's kind of crazy how far I've seen myself come,” Brooks said. “I changed my habits a lot. I started working out more, and I cut out soda. I drink about a gallon of water a day. The weight has fallen off. I'm trying to put on sustainable weight.”
Holan said that Brooks is “chiseled.”
“He's done a tremendous job on himself, changing his body and putting himself in a position where he can be the best version of himself on the field,” Holan said. “He's a healthy-looking big dude now.
“He's way stronger than he was. He's got great feet and balance, which I think is something that's so underrated and not talked about enough with offensive linemen.”
As Brooks' fitness improves, his natural athleticism comes to the surface.
“I think losing that weight just really helped me to stay on my feet more,” he said. “I'm a lot more explosive from the ground up. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in my stance with my knee bend. My flexibility, my range of motion is very important to me.”
Brooks played on the freshman team in the COVID-shortened spring 2021 season and began last season as a backup on a team filled with senior linemen.
“He was still figuring it out,” Holan said. “It was important to make him earn it. We didn't want to hand him anything. He was going to end up being a starter at some point, sooner or later. But we had a couple injuries and we got him out there, and the rest is history. He got better every week.”
Brooks came on strong and was selected to the Mt. Hood Conference first team.
“It wasn't like he was a surprise. We knew he was good,” Holan said. “His opportunity came a little bit sooner. To a certain extent, he proved me wrong. … He played at a tremendously high level at an early age.”
Brooks picked up an offer from Nevada at the end of last season. More offers came in waves in the spring and summer.
“Just getting my name out there is crazy,” Brooks said. “I didn't expect the attention like this. You've kind of got to own up to it and live that life now.”
Brooks has built the strongest relationships with Oregon and Washington, according to Holan.
“I think those are probably the most realistic options for him right now,” Holan said.
Brooks said the upcoming season is “all I can think about.” Even though he is being recruited as a guard, he will play mostly at right tackle for the Cavaliers. He also will substitute at defensive tackle and nose guard.
“This year I think I'm going to have a bigger role on defense,” he said.
Holan is counting on Brooks to become more of a leader by setting an example with his work ethic.
“He is just constantly pushing himself really hard without me having to coax that out of him,” Holan said. “He's one of the first ones in there ready to rock and roll. His hard work is definitely paying off.”