Kansas reportedly lands juco All-America linebacker
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Kansas apparently has shored up its biggest weakness heading into preseason camp.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Vernon Brooks, a junior-college All-American linebacker from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, has decided to play for the Jayhawks. He would be available to join the Jayhawks immediately.
Brooks, a 6-foot, 228-pounder, will fill a hole where the Jayhawks lost three starters from last season. The departure of James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen from last season's team has had coach Mark Mangino scrambling for answers for the last several months.
Mangino has been considering a 4-2-5 defense as his base as one way around the problem. And he's also moved former running back Angus Quigley to the position to bolster talent there.
But Brooks would provide an immediate upgrade in talent at the position. The Journal-World reported he visited Kansas last weekend and picked them over offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn and Tulsa.
The Jayhawks will be hoping for better production from Brooks than from another junior-college All-American they recently attracted. Running back Jocques Crawford led the nation's junior college rushers in 2007 at Cisco (Texas) Junior College. After predicting before last season he would rush for 2,000 yards, Crawford struggled finding a niche and produced only 262 yards rushing for the Jayhawks.
Earlier this spring, Crawford was suspended from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. His future remains uncertain in the Kansas program.
Blinn College is noted for producing strong athletes like former Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop, former Texas running back Shon Mitchell and former Kansas State wide receiver Quincy Morgan. Brooks was coached there by Brad Franchione, son of former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione.
Brooks' arrival could be a critical personnel addition for the Jayhawks, who have higher expectations heading into the season than at any time in Big 12 history. Mangino has taken the Jayhawks to back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The Jayhawks are a fashionable pick to contend in the Big 12 North Division.
And adding a junior-college All-American -- even long after spring practice is over -- shouldn't hurt those hopes.