Brooks biding his time

Zac Brooks

CLEMSON - It's rare to find a highly recruited freshman who can see the long term benefit of taking a redshirt during his first season on campus.

Zac Brooks is one of them. Unfortunately, for him, he wasn't afforded that luxury.

The Clemson coaches thought it was too risky to go through the 2012 season with just three scholarship players at running back. Given Andre Ellington's health history and the lack of experience behind him with D.J. Howard and Roderick McDowell, it's hard to argue against keeping Brooks available this season.

"If I could have gotten redshirted -- but due to the lack of backs that we have -- I think it would have been big for me if I could have gotten redshirted," Brooks said. "Circumstances happen, you know?"

One of those circumstances being the departure of Mike Bellamy, who was ruled academically ineligible after last school year. Had Bellamy made it to this season, Brooks said he would have taken a redshirt this fall.

Instead, as the No. 4 running back, he's played only a handful of snaps. Before Saturday night's win over Duke, Brooks had 13 carries for 53 yards.

Brooks nearly doubled both stats in the 56-20 win over the Blue Devils when he rushed for 62 yards on 12 carries.

"I was happy to be out there, but at the same time, I was happy that we were winning," he said. "So I just went out there and just gave it my best shot, just to freshmen my legs from getting off the bench."

As weird as it may sound, he doesn't mind being there.

"I've always thought of it like seasoning. It hasn't been my season yet. I've been real content with being behind Andre, Rod and D.J., kind of learning from them and picking up stuff," Brooks said. "Winter is not going to come in the summer time. There's a season for everything, there's a time for everything.

"My time's coming, so I'm good."

There were two primary factors that have prevented him from landing in a higher spot on the depth chart.

"I didn't pick up the protections. As camp went on, the more in-depth the plays got, the more lost I kind of got in the scheme of things. That and the weight kind of played a big part in that," Brooks said.

After getting up to 189 pounds over the summer, he now tips the scales at 185. Brooks, who graduated from Jonesboro High School [Arkansas] early, arrived to Clemson in January at 180.

"They want me to get to 200, 205, which I think I can get there," he said. "I'm young. I just turned 18 in February. I'll be 19 coming up soon, so I've got time. I'm not rushing anything. My time's coming. That's how I'm looking at it."

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