Penn State ended this past weekend knowing it would be thin at linebacker for New Year’s Day’s Outback Bowl against Arkansas. Now, they’ll be lacking even further at the position.
Ellis Brooks, a redshirt senior who leads the Nittany Lions in tackles with 100 on the dot (third in the Big Ten), tweeted that he will be forgoing the Outback Bowl and focusing on the 2022 NFL Draft.
— Ellis Brooks (@ellis_brooks13) December 20, 2021
“My experience here at Penn State is something that I will always be extremely grateful for,” Brooks’s statement read. “Growing up as a kid with a dream to come play football for Penn State to having the actual opportunity to be a part of Linebacker U and this team is still a surreal feeling.”
With Brooks and Smith both gone, sophomore Curtis Jacobs is the only starting linebacker available against Arkansas. Senior Jesse Luketa– who already announced his plans to play in the Outback Bowl– normally plays defensive end, but has experience at the linebacker position. Safety Jonathan Sutherland started at linebacker on Senior Day against Rutgers when the Nittany Lions were ravaged by sickness. It’s not clear who will start in place of the two NFL Draft entrants.
Brooks leaving comes as no surprise. He had been a part of the Penn State program since 2017. In Brooks’s statement, he thanked head coach James Franklin and former defensive coordinator Brent Pry and ended by thanking Penn State’s fans.
“I can only hope that you received some of the same joy watching me in the Blue & White that I got from playing in front of you,” he wrote. “I’ll forever be a Penn Stater. We Are!”