TALLAHASSEE — Nearly two decades later, Derrick Brooks still vividly remembers sitting in the meeting room with his fellow defensive backs at Florida State and learning he was changing positions.
"Mickey Andrews sat in that meeting room and told me to go in the room with the linebackers and don't come in this room again," Brooks said, laughing. "I thought it was his way of motivating me, but he was being strictly honest with me."
Late in the 1991 season, Brooks, a heralded freshman safety, showed the FSU coaches that he could keep on a few extra pounds, hitting 205 on the scale, to hold his own at linebacker. And yes, he can remember sitting in the meeting room with his new position coach, Wally Burnham, and telling him:
" 'Coach. I'm going to start for you. Very soon,' " he said. "I can only imagine what he was thinking at the time."
Well, Brooks went onto a stellar career and was honored Saturday night by having his No. 10 jersey retired in a halftime ceremony. He joins a select fraternity of CB Deion Sanders (2), QBs Chris Weinke (16) and Charlie Ward (17), WR Fred Biletnikoff (25), TB Warrick Dunn (28), WR Ron Sellers (34) and NG Ron Simmons (50).
"God has truly blessed me," said Brooks, who went on to a become a pillar of the Bucs defense, made 11 Pro Bowl trips and won countless awards and a Super Bowl ring. "I've said a lot of thank yous to a lot of people over the last six months, and tonight is just the culmination of seeing the process through."
Blending speed and savvy, Brooks produced game-changing plays to earn first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior (1993 and 1994) and helped the Seminoles win their first national title (1993).
"I wanted to live up to the hype," he said, adding his thanks to his old coaches and teammates. "It's no secret out of Pensacola, following in the footsteps of Emmitt Smith, in terms of winning every accolade a high school athlete could win, I won also and I wanted to carry that torch. I didn't consider it pressure at all. I considered it an honor. I just wanted to do my hometown proud."
Just as important to him and his family, Brooks also excelled off the field, graduating in 31/2 years and winning an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and a spot on the academic All-America team.
Not that he ever envisioned he would have the moment that would come nearly 20 years after a life-changing meeting.
"I was so consumed with graduating and so, so passionate about getting coach (Bobby) Bowden his first national championship during my four years here, I never had a chance to think about any individual success," he said. "As I've stayed connected to the university (as a Board of Trustee member), you hear the whispers. … When I got the call, I was just humbled, very humbled."
BRING ON THE TIDE?: FSU is talking to Chick-fil-A Bowl officials about playing Alabama in its kickoff game in 2014 when the Seminoles have just one non-conference foe set, Florida, and need three more games. (In 2013, they already have games with West Virginia, Florida and Nevada, and adding the Crimson Tide seems unlikely.)
MORE CELEBRATIONS: Former FSU standout C Buster Posey, who helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series, received a thunderous ovation when he was recognized during the first quarter.
THREE SEMINOLES LEAVE: Redshirt sophomore WR A.J. Alexander, redshirt junior DE Jamar Jackson and sophomore S Jajuan Harley all left the team on their own accord, FSU announced.