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88 DAYS TO 2021 KICKOFF: Phillip Brooks

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In which BracketCat counts down the 88th day until the 2021 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State wide receiver Phillip Brooks.

#88 Phillip Brooks
I may live to be 100 years old and never again see anything as impressive as Phillip Brooks’ (88) TWO punt returns for touchdowns against KU last fall — if only because no future coach will be as stupid as Les Miles to punt to a kid like that TWICE.
Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

#88 Phillip Brooks

Redshirt Junior | 5-7 | 167 lbs. | Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Phillip Brooks
Phillip Brooks
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Starter
  • Status: On Scholarship

Phillip Andrew Brooks III (b. Sept. 19, 1999) ranks second in school history and is tied for sixth in Big 12 history with three punt-return touchdowns.

Brooks, who is majoring in business administration, enters the 2021 season tied for first nationally among active players in punt-return touchdowns and seventh in punt-return yards, and he is 30 yards shy of entering the KSU’s top-10 list for career punt-return yards.

As a promising young slot receiver, he played in four games in 2018, enough to preserve his redshirt season while still gaining valuable experience under head coach Bill Snyder.

Brooks returned three kickoffs for an 18.7-yard average and one punt for 6 yards. His best game as a kickoff returner was against Texas Tech — he had two returns for 44 total yards.

Flourishing under a new coaching staff, Brooks then saw time in 12 games in 2019, totaling 26 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown, while rushing seven times for 26 yards.

He also returned 12 kickoffs for a 22.7-yard average and eight punts for a 15-yard average.

Brooks finished fourth in the Big 12 in kickoff-return average that season, while he tied for third nationally in punt-return touchdowns.

His punt-return score was a 66-yarder against Navy in the 2019 Liberty Bowl.

Brooks also had seven catches against Baylor, the most by a Wildcat on the season and tied for the third most among freshmen in a single game in school history.

He also totaled 69 receiving yards against the Bears, while he had 63 yards against West Virginia and scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard reception at Texas Tech.

In 2020, Brooks was a dynamic player on offense — he played in all 10 games with four starts — but perhaps did his most damage on special teams as he was a third-team All-American punt returner by Phil Steele.

He also earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a punt returner from the league’s coaches.

Brooks put together a 23.7-yard punt return average, a mark that would have led the nation and been the best in school history if he had just one more return to meet the NCAA-required minimum (truly unfair when most coaches not named Les Miles won’t punt to him!).

He set a school record with 189 punt-return yards and two touchdowns against Kansas en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors, and his two punt-return touchdowns were the most in Big 12 history for a conference game.

Brooks’ 47.25-yard average against the Jayhawks was the highest by any player in the nation with at least four attempts since at least 1996 and his two touchdowns on the season were tied for third in school history.

As a direct result of that game in particular, he helped the Wildcats to rank third in school history and second in the nation during 2020 in team punt-return average (22.07).

Brooks also hauled in 15 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns on the year, while he rushed eight times for 41 yards and also earned first-team Academic All-Big 12 honors.

He scored the Wildcats’ first touchdown of the season on a 17-yard reception against Arkansas State, while he had another on a 25-yard catch just before halftime against Oklahoma State, but one thing I look for in 2021 is continued growth as a go-to receiver.

A four-year letter-winner at Lee’s Summit High School West under head coach Vinny Careswell, Brooks was named to the USA Today Sports All-USA Missouri team, as well as the Missouri Football Coaches Association All-State first team as a senior in 2017.

He rushed for 1,666 yards (averaging 151.5 yards per game) and 21 touchdowns as a senior, while he collected 556 receiving yards (a 23.2-yard average per game) and 10 touchdowns, and also totaled 262 return yards and a score.

A two-time first-team all-conference and all-district pick who also was named to The Kansas City Star All-Metro team, Brooks was invited to play in the Blue-Grey All-American game.

He also lettered three years in baseball, earning a pair of all-state honors, and four years in basketball, picking up two all-district accolades.

Brooks initially walked on at K-State over offers from Air Force, Idaho, Navy and North Dakota, plus interest from home-state team Missouri, but surely is on scholarship by now.