Arizona senior and defensive beast Brooks Reed represented the Wildcats in the Under Armour Senior Bowl on Jan. 29, registering two tackles for a loss of 12 yards and a sack for a loss of 11. Brooks is now in Scottsdale, Ariz., training for the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 23-March 1.
I recently got the chance to talk to Brooks about his hair and his future in the NFL, but mainly his hair:
Sarah: I don’t want to take anything away from your game performance, but I think it’s fair to say the week of practice leading up to the game is more important than the game itself with all the scouts there. The scouts love you—you got great reviews—but they think you’re too small to play defensive end and want to move you to outside linebacker. What do you think about that change?
Brooks: It’s pretty realistic for me to make the change from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 stand-up linebacker. It would just be kind of natural for me to do it. I have the prototypical size of a stand-up linebacker and teams really want to see me excel at drills and stuff at that position, so I’ll be pretty prepared to perform well at the combine.
Sarah: And speaking of the combine, now that you’ve been invited, what exactly are you doing in your workouts to prepare for it?
Brooks: Man, I could go on for days about what I’m doing here to prepare myself for the combine, but generally I’m working with the personal trainer doing a bunch of one-on-one stuff, getting on the white board, drawing out plays and knowing different defensive schemes—I want to know the whole defense, not just what one player is doing on the field against different offensive looks. We’re working out twice a day, six days a week, so there’s a lot of preparation for the combine.
Sarah: You all aren’t benching cars or anything? Because by the looks of you guys I’m pretty sure you could.
Brooks: (Laughs) No, we’re doing a lot of things that we’re going to see at the combine, so we’re doing a lot of position drills, a lot of repetition on bench and just a lot of stuff geared toward the combine.
Sarah: Is there anything you’re nervous for?
Brooks: The Senior Bowl was a nice little warm-up for the combine. We did interviews and worked out in front of scouts. I think I’ll feel pretty confident going into it. I think I’ll be better at the drills and I have an extra three weeks to prepare. I don’t think I’ll be too nervous for interviews and whatnot.
Sarah: OK, let’s move on to the draft itself. If you could pick which team you play for, where would you end up?
Brooks: So many people have asked me this question and I always tell them I really don’t care. As long as the team wants me and it’s a nice city with nice weather, that’s just the cherry on top.
Sarah: That’s a very noble answer, but if the Raiders picked you up you’d probably be a little bit mad, right?
Brooks: Why would I be mad?
Sarah: Because it’s the Raiders.
Brooks: You’re not a Raiders fan, huh?
Sarah: Uh, no, but is anyone, really? Aside from the people who wear those Darth Vader costumes?
Brooks: (Laughs) I think it would be pretty cool to play for the Raiders. I’d be OK with that.
Sarah: Are you a fan?
Brooks: Not really, no. Growing up I never really had an NFL team that I really followed. It was more college football. I always knew that I wanted to play professional football, but I wasn’t a die-hard fan.
Sarah: That’s kind of funny: “I want to be in your league, but I’m not going to watch your league.”
Brooks: I guess my dad never really watched the NFL, so I never did.
Sarah: Makes sense. So how did you get to be as good as you are today? Is there a certain someone or something that has pushed you this far?
Brooks: I think it’s just my work ethic that got me this far. I had a great foundation over at my high school, Sabino, and I always worked really hard. The strength and conditioning coach for U of A—Corey Edmond—I’m sure I wouldn’t be here without him. He brought me along and he was the one who recommended me to play defensive end, so if I went to a different school I’d be in a totally different situation.
Sarah: Do you model your game after anyone?
Brooks: I try to come up with my own style, but I watch a lot of NFL players. Dwight Freeney, Clay Matthews, guys that I have a lot of access to film to.
Sarah: Clay Matthews? Is that what the long hair is all about? You just want to be twins?
Brooks: (Laughs) No, I was the first one to grow out my hair. I’m not trying to copy anyone. Everyone’s going to start thinking, “Same position, same long hair.” I started growing it out ever since I switched over to defense, which was my redshirt freshman year, so I never did it because of Clay Matthews.
Sarah: Well, if you ended up on the Packers, between you, Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk, you guys would be like a bunch of hulked-out Barbies running around.
Brooks: (Laughs) Is that what they’re saying? Hulked-out Barbies?
Sarah: That’s what I just thought of right now, but is that not an accurate description?
Brooks: I heard a lot of people saying I’d fit well there just because of the hair.
Sarah: Your hair mesmerizes me in a very non-creepy way. Do you have any tips? It’s so luscious and shiny.
Brooks: (Laughs) Just a lot of care. I shampoo and condition. I don’t comb. It’s naturally straight.
Sarah: You don’t comb it? You just get out of the shower and flip it and that’s it?
Brooks: That’s it.
Brooks: Come on, I can’t be up in the locker combing my hair.
Sarah: Not even finger-comb? I mean, you’ve got a mane going on! How do you do that?
Brooks: I don’t know. It’s just a miracle, you know. It’s just genetics, I guess.
Sarah: God’s gift.
Brooks: (Laughs) I have to rock it if it’s like that.
Sarah: Totally. Have you been paying any attention to the collective bargaining stuff?
Brooks: Yeah, a little bit.
Sarah: Do you think it’s going to get worked out?
Brooks: I have a feeling that it won’t from what I’ve heard. I think there probably will be a lockout for a few months then we’ll pick up again.
Sarah: So are you just going to train on your own?
Brooks: If that were to happen, no one’s going to sign a contract, so I’ll just go home and train a little while and wait for things to get straightened out, I guess.
Sarah: Anything I’ve missed?
Brooks: You asked a lot of questions that the coaches asked down at the Senior Bowl in the interview portion.
Sarah: So you’re saying I could be an NFL coach?
Brooks: That’s pretty much what I’m saying.
Sarah: Perfect. Forget this journalism thing. How was it?
Brooks: It was pretty intense. You go into a conference room. You have the GM, the head coach, the regional recruiter, a psychologist taking notes on you and a camera pointed in your face, and they’re all asking you questions to see how you do under pressure, I guess.
Sarah: There’s a psychologist making sure you’re not messed up?
Brooks: Yeah, she’ll ask you a couple questions and then you start overthinking stuff like, “Why is she asking this question? What is the right answer to this?”
Sarah: So, wait. If there’s a psychologist in this process, how did Pacman Jones get into the league?
Brooks: I don’t know. (Laughs) Maybe that’s why they have them now.