TALLAHASSEE — DeCalon Brooks doesn't only want to be known as Derrick Brooks' son.
Yes, he plays the same position (linebacker) at the same school (Florida State) where his father won a national title in 1993 before becoming a Bucs legend and a Hall of Famer.
But Brooks wants you to know he isn't his dad.
"I'm my own person," he said.
And now is the time for him to start making a name for himself.
After redshirting in 2017 as a freshman and battling back from a knee injury, the Gaither High alumnus is healthy and ready to contribute for the Seminoles. As importantly, FSU lost all three starting linebackers from last season, leaving holes Brooks can help fill immediately.
"He's going to make a lot of plays for us," linebackers coach Raymond Woodie said.
Woodie initially hoped Brooks would be making those plays for him at USF; he recruited him heavily as a part of then-coach Willie Taggart's Bulls staff. That process began not because of DeCalon's father but because of his impressive production on the field (105 tackles and six sacks as a senior) and in the classroom.
"I don't compare him to his dad," Woodie said. "If DeCalon's last name wasn't Brooks, and if he wasn't the son of Derrick Brooks, I still would have recruited him because he's a tough, old-school type player.
"I want those types of guys in our room."
The Seminoles are still sorting out exactly where Brooks fits into that room.
He was fast at Gaither and has only gotten quicker. Combine that with his size (5-11, 211 pounds) and Brooks seems like a match for the STAR linebacker/safety hybrid, where five-star freshman Jaiden Woodbey could also see time. Brooks also has worked as the money (weakside) linebacker.
Regardless of whether, or where, he starts, Seminoles coaches expect him to be an integral part of coordinator Harlon Barnett's unit.
"He plays defense like he's supposed to," said Taggart, in his first season as the Seminoles' coach. "You're talking about just a flat-out football player. You don't get many that's better than DeCalon."
Coaches say Brooks has done everything he needed to in the offseason to earn playing time and maximize the potential they saw from him in Tampa.
He worked his way back from a knee injury that hobbled him for almost all of last season. The instincts Brooks started honing in the Tampa Bay Youth Football League have only gotten better through his dedication to studying film.
"He was up all offseason in the office trying to learn everything he could," Barnett said. "Almost every day he was up there. Now you're seeing the results of that out here on the field."
Because fans haven't seen those results yet, Brooks is still defined by his 45-year-old dad, who watched the Seminoles practice last week at Bradenton's IMG Academy. FSU doesn't see it that way. Coaches might mention his bloodlines, but only as one of his traits, alongside his competitiveness or toughness.
The Seminoles don't want DeCalon Brooks to be his dad. They want him to be himself.
That's all Brooks wants, too.
"I really don't get sick of me talking about my dad, because my dad did so many great things — and he's my father, you know?" Brooks said. "I take pride in that. … It's trying to get that across people's minds, we're two different people."
Seminoles fans know all about Derrick Brooks.
Now it's time for them to find out what DeCalon can do.
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.