Brooks makes the grade


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Ahmad Brooks has tackled his last assignment in becoming a Virginia Cavalier.

The ex-Hylton High School all-state linebacker earned the necessary standardized test score to play Division I football, his family said Friday.

According to Ahmad’s mother, Vergie, the Cavalier coaching staff relayed the final bit of good news to her son this week. With Brooks having achieved the necessary ACT and SAT scores with his October results, the NCAA Clearinghouse sent the final fax of approval Friday morning.

Brooks will be permitted to enroll at U.Va. next month in time for the start of the second semester of this academic year. He can take part in spring football practice and begin his NCAA eligibility next fall as a true freshman.

The nation’s defensive player of the year by USA Today last year, Brooks has been in limbo this semester at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham. With better than a 2.5 grade-point average at Hylton, Brooks needed a 68 between four ACT scores or an 820 SAT score. Vergie Brooks said Friday that he qualified on both counts. If Brooks had enrolled at U.Va. this year as a partial qualifier, he couldn’t have played.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “One of the reasons for him to go to Hargrave was that we knew he was close to [being a full qualifier] anyway. He wanted to not sit out and [therefore] not play football. The best thing for him was to stay in physical shape.”

Vergie and Perry Brooks Sr., a former Washington Redskin defensive lineman, planned on meeting Ahmad in Charlottesville on Friday night to register him for next semester. He will begin classes in mid-January.

Traditionally, U.Va. has not permitted football recruits to enroll in the university between semesters. Even Fork Union Military Academy graduate Eddie George, who went on to win the 1995 Heisman Trophy at Ohio State, was denied a mid-year entrance.

However, this is a new staff in Charlottesville with head coach Al Groh in his second season. Brooks was the most ballyhooed recruit in last year’s Virginia class, which was rated in the top 10 by most recruiting services. Even without Brooks, Groh has begun to enjoy the fruits of his first two recruiting classes. Six freshmen, including linebacker Darryl Blackstock (the nation’s sacks leader among rookies), are among the Cavalier starters this season.

While Groh made an exception for Brooks, he did not extend the same invitation to other recruits who were signed early in 2002 and qualified late in the year. Defensive lineman Robert Armstrong, a Virginia signee last February, is reportedly considering Maryland or Ohio State at the end of this semester. Armstrong played at Fork Union Military Academy this fall before leaving school once he qualified.

Brooks, who was unavailable for comment Friday, originally signed with Virginia last February. Though he was free to change his decision this year, he has not wavered. A year ago, his final five schools were U.Va., Virginia Tech, Florida State, Tennessee and Penn State. He visited all but Penn State before deciding on the Cavaliers.

This year, U.Va. finished the regular season with an 8-5 record, including 6-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (tied for second). The team appears headed for the Continental Tire Bowl or the Seattle Bowl.

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