Brooks grows full circle with Longhorn Network
Sept. 24, 2012
John Byczek, Texas Media Relations
Ahmad Brooks prides himself on being a team player. To Brooks, there is no greater feeling than working with others and using teamwork to accomplish something great.
From 1998-2001, he helped the Texas Football team to a 38-13 record and two bowl game wins. Now, Brooks is starting a journey with a new team -- The Longhorn Network.
Brooks was added to the network's team of on-air talent as a full-time contracted analyst to begin the 2012 season. With this position, Brooks is assuming a reality that has been years in the making.
Growing up in the football-rich town of Abilene, Texas, Brooks knew his football skills would eventually land him in front of the camera. At the age of 10, Brooks started practicing his interview skills by pretending to be the interviewer and the interviewee. By the age of 14, he was comfortable in the spotlight.
"As a kid and as an athlete," Brooks said, "you always play out in your head being heroic and sitting in front of a room of reporters and having them ask you questions about some type of success that you had on the field."
During middle school and high school, Brooks was a leader both on the football field and in the classroom. In fact, he was class president of his eighth grade class and all four years of high school. Even though he enjoyed camera time, Brooks hated to do speeches and address his classmates as the class president. It wasn't until his class' 10-year reunion that he was able to speak in front of his classmates.
"I was a really quiet kid and that type of atmosphere was really uncomfortable for me," Brooks explained. "I felt much more comfortable answering questions about my football skills rather than getting up and talking in front of my peers."
Soon enough, his football skills would land him a spot in the Texas Longhorns secondary. In 2005, after his NFL career, Brooks graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in communications.
After graduating, Brooks' broadcasting career was in full swing. After reaching out to IMG, UT Athletics' multimedia rights holder, Brooks was able to do some regional work with FOX and Longhorn Sports Center Weekly with Coach Mack Brown. It took off from there. In 2006, Brooks did some sideline games with the Longhorns on FOX, which created some opportunities for him to work high school football games, including multiple state championship games.
His career kept evolving. Next, Brooks interned with AM 1300 The Zone, UT AThletics' flagship radio station in Austin. The director of the station liked Brooks and hired him part time. Soon after, Brooks became co-host of AM 1300 The Zone's morning show called "Wake Up Call."
"While I was [at The Zone] I learned very valuable skills that I would need to translate to TV like verbiage, preparing for a studio show, and just planning out your day with ideas of things you will say on air. It was great practice for me," Brooks said.
Brooks held his position at The Zone until 2011. Two days later, ESPN announced it would be partnering up with The University of Texas to create the Longhorn Network.
"From that point, I knew I wanted to be a part of their team," Brooks said. "It just made sense that it was The University of Texas and ESPN, two wonderful entities with a great deal of success."
Brooks began contacting Stephanie Druley, the vice president of production for LHN. He didn't hear back from her for seven months, when she explained why she did not get back in touch with him.
"I was a little offended that I at least didn't get an interview until I found out about the great talent that they had there," Brooks said. "They pulled the top person for what they did from CBS and the top young lady from FOX. My resume didn't match up to theirs.
"However, Ms. Druley was kind enough to give me an audition that wasn't even supposed to be for a position," Brooks continued. "By the time I got done, she allowed me the opportunity to take a couple stabs at doing live practice, one of the toughest shows to do there because it's not scripted. I found my niche."
In this moment, Brooks' two worlds collided, in which his passion would become his career. In his first year, Brooks worked with the Longhorn Network a lot more than anyone had expected. He was rewarded a contract and now works six days a week with either ESPN or LHN.
He has a variety of responsibilities. Brooks is one of the football analysts for LHN and covers live Texas Football practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He is a part of the football gameday crew and staffs every pre- and postgame show, and halftime shows only when the Longhorns are on LHN. During the week, he spends time in the studio.
"I think the best part about it is going to work everyday and knowing that you're putting a product together for Texas fans that don't have the tremendous access that we do [here in Austin]," Brooks explained. "We can be the eyes and the ears for the millions of fans across the world -- not the country, the world -- who support this university. I take tremendous pride in my work, and I consider it a huge responsibility to share that information.
"At the end of the day I'm still that kid who loves sports, loves the Longhorns, and finds himself everyday in a dream because I get a chance to go to practice and interact with Coach Brown and the guys that I would admire from a distance if I wasn't a part of this job."
Brooks can't imagine himself anywhere else.
"I'm now more of a Longhorn than I ever was because I have a better understanding of what this university represents," he said. "I really do consider myself one of the luckiest and most blessed individuals that I know, partly because I know how hard I worked to get here and I'm just a small part of something so big. It brings me tremendous joy."