- Two-time unanimous First Team All-American in 1993 and 1994.
- A 1994 NFF National Scholar-Athlete.
- His No. 10 jersey has been retired at Florida State.
- Played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden.
- Becomes the sixth Seminole player to be inducted into the Hall.
Derrick Brooks remembers one of his first in-office encounters with Florida State’s Hall of Fame Coach Bobby Bowden. An excellent student in high school, Brooks received a C in one of his freshman classes and was called into Bowden’s office.
“And when you go see the head coach, it’s not good,” Brooks recalled of Bowden’s disappointment in his academic performance. “And he shared with me how his expectations of me were to not only lead our football team on the field, but set a standard for our football program off the field when it came to academics.”
Brooks rebounded to become an NFF National Scholar-Athlete, three-time Academic All-ACC honoree and an NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner. In addition, Brooks is a member of both the Seminoles’ and CoSIDA Academic All-America halls of fame.
Matching his academic prowess was his leadership ability on the field for the Seminoles, for whom he notched 274 career tackles. He was a finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski trophies during his senior year in 1994.
But it was during his junior season of 1993 the Seminoles claimed their first national championship. Posting a 12-1 record that season, the Seminoles lost only at Notre Dame, 31-24, then defeated Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl to claim the title. During the course of Brooks’ four seasons, Florida State won four straight New Year’s Day Bowls (Cotton, Orange twice, and Sugar), compiled a 44-5-1 overall record and never finished below No. 4 in the final Associated Press Poll.
The Seminoles, formerly an independent, started competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992, Brooks’ sophomore season. FSU won the ACC that season and that began a string of nine straight league titles (won or shared) under Bowden.
“He was one of the greatest linebackers in college football history,” said current Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher. “He led Florida State to our first national championship, setting the tone for the program for years to come. Derrick was a true Seminole, who was a dominant player on the field, but an even better man off of it. He is a great example of what it means to be a student-athlete and how you can excel on and off the field with his commitment to public service.”
Selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, Brooks played his entire 14-year career with the same team and was selected to 11 Pro Bowls. He helped the Bucs to a victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII and was named the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Brooks, the co-recipient of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2000, continues to be involved in several charitable and educational causes, including his own foundation. He also was a member of the FSU Board of Trustees from 2003-11, much of the time before Bowden retired in 2009.
“I had a chance to play for him and support him as an alumnus,” said Brooks, now co-owner and president of the Tampa Bay Storm, an Arena Football League team. “In the latter part of his career, I joined the Board of Trustees and was one of his bosses. So we joke about that whenever we talk.”