Former Starkville High School standout Natrone Brooks brings down a Northeast Mississippi Community College ball carrier while playing for Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Photo by: JuCoWeekly.org Photo
September 24, 2018 10:35:03 PM
Copiah-Lincoln Community College freshman defensive back Natrone Brooks is a quick learner.
After arriving at Co-Lin in June, the former Starkville High School all-state performer has learned on the fly and has gone to work quickly making big plays for the Wolfpack.
"The first part of this season has been amazing," Brooks said. "To have the coaches believe in you, and your teammates, too, to be out there making plays, it is very exciting. Everybody in this league can play. Everybody has good athletes. Being able to be on the field with that many really great players is humbling. It's quite the experience."
Brooks has already worked his way into the starting lineup at Co-Lin.
That means his play will again be key when Co-Lin (2-2, 1-0) takes on Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (3-1, 0-1) in a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) South Division game Thursday night in Perkinston.
Through four games, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Brooks has six total tackles, five pass break-ups and an interception.
"Our defense is the best in the state," Brooks said. "The defense has a lot of speed and it's one big brotherhood. When somebody makes a big play, everybody on the sidelines is ready to greet them. Same holds true after a mistake. The guys are there to lift you up and keep you going. After I saw that in practice, that is when I knew this could be a special team on defense. Each team, has a quarterback who can play, receivers who can catch. So it's important to prepare. If you are prepared and you have confidence in your teammates, you have a chance. Each player has been the main guy on their high school teams. That just means you got a lot of super athletes running around on the field. As a defensive unit, we are off to a good start keeping the other teams' really great players under control."
While Brooks liked his progression through fall camp, that didn't reduce the jitters when his named was penciled into the lineup for the season opener - a 29-28 loss to Holmes Community College.
"The biggest thing I had to learn was relaxing," Brooks said. "Pretty much for the first game, may have been too excited. You want to prove to your coaches that they should believe in you and trust you. The main thing you have to learn is that you can play with these players. You don't have to do anything out of the ordinary. Just work hard in practice, believe in yourself. The coaches brought you in for a reason. My play picked up when all of this became natural. It's just playing in another league. It's a huge challenge, but something all of us are capable of doing."
The Holmes loss has been a driving force for the improved play of the Wolfpack. After that setback, Co-Lin beat Northeast Mississippi Community College (21-7) and Pearl River Community College (49-0).
Last Thursday, Co-Lin could not protect at 14-7 halftime lead in a 23-14 loss against No. 5 Northwest Mississippi Community College.
Overall, the Co-Lin defense is allowing 14.8 points and 277.3 yards per game.
"We should have won the Holmes game," Brooks said. "I think that motivated everybody on the team to do a little bit more. After that loss, it was like maximum effort here on out. Northwest is a Top-5 team so everybody is encouraged about that loss. We did a great job on defense of keeping them down and giving our offense a chance. It's the type of team we could see in the playoffs. So we know a little more about our goals and what we need to do to reach them."
In the MACJC South Division, two of seven teams make the playoffs. Hinds Community College, Jones County Junior College, East Central Community College and Gulf Coast are division rivals already spending some time in the national rankings this season.
"Each week is a grind," Brooks said. "You can't take an opponent lightly. When you play your position, you can't take the opposing player lightly. One week, it's Northwest. The next week it's Gulf Coast. It keeps going. To be out there working with my teammates is humbling. This league is the best and it means to lot be out there on that field."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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