Gateway lineman Matt Brooks finds perfect fit with Duquesne
Sunday, July 17, 2022 | 11:01 AM
Matt Brooks struck up a strong connection while talking with new Duquesne defensive line coach Reggie Wells Jr.
But the Gateway rising senior and two-way standout lineman said he didn’t know that Wells played in the NFL as an offensive lineman for 10 years with the Arizona Cardinals, was a team captain for Super Bowl XLIII and played with Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Edgerrin James.
“He never even mentioned that to me,” said Brooks, who recently gave a verbal commitment to continue his football and academic pursuits with the Dukes football program.
“I looked him up one day and found out all about his pro football career. Usually, people who have that kind of story, it’s the first thing they tell people. That showed me he is a very humble guy. He was all about wanting to get to know me and finding out how coming to Duquesne could help me. That made me want to be surrounded by him and others who felt the same way. It made my decision that much easier.”
Brooks announced his verbal commitment to Duquense on July 4 surrounded by friends and family.
“I made the decision a while before, but I didn’t really talk to anyone about it,” said Brooks, who also had interest from schools in both the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision.
“It had been on my mind. I figured that I might as well do it right now if I was already set on it.”
Brooks said making the decision now is good for him as he plans to graduate from Gateway in December, enroll early at Duquesne and be ready to participate in spring practices.
“I am really excited about that,” he said.
The 6-foot-2, 275 pound Brooks, who transferred to Gateway from Canon-McMillan before last season, was an anchor on the offensive line for the Gators in 2021 and also created havoc in the trenches on the defensive line.
He earned first-team Big East honors after recording 63 tackles (40 solo) and a team-best six sacks for a Gateway team that went 7-5 overall, 4-1 in Big East play. The Gators suffered a tough 23-20 loss to rival Penn Hills in the WPIAL Class 5A first round.
Brooks was a second-team WPIAL Class 6A all-star as a sophomore at Canon-McMillan.
Brooks said he was happy to have the success he had last season after being welcomed right away by his new Gateway teammates over the summer.
“I came here in June (2021), and the energy was just different,” Brooks said. “I just loved the coaches right away. That first day, the guys came right up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Let’s get ready to work.’ I felt part of the team right away. I loved being here, but I felt that the guys loved having me here even more. That was a big part in helping me adjust right away. It was just a really good feeling to have that.”
Brooks said the excitement level for this season is high as the team continues to work in the weight room and with on-field workouts.
Brooks said he is looking forward to a challenging 2022 schedule that begins against defending WPIAL and PIAA state champion Mt. Lebanon in Week Zero on Aug. 26 followed by games against rival Woodland Hills and North Hills.
“Some people are doubting us a little bit, but we’ve been working our butts off out here, and we want it more than anybody else,” Brooks said. “You can see that we have the energy and the focus, so I think we have a bright season ahead of us.”
Gateway coach Don Holl said he is pleased to see Brooks have this opportunity at Duquesne.
“It’s always one of the best things that can happen when they put in a lot of time, energy, commitment and effort not just for the team but for the school and community overall,” Holl said. “It’s nice to see him get rewarded like that. Getting the chance to play Division I football is something that he’s hoped for and worked for for a long time. He’s going to do it and do it close to home, which is always something great.”
Holl said Brooks is a strong leader on and off the field for the Gators as they get closer to the start of the season.
“He’s big, strong and explosive in everything he does,” Holl said. “He sets that example. He’s going to again be a big part of the success we hope to have this season.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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