The unusual story of a blue-chip quarterback hanging up his cleats with the Texas Longhorns to become a welder & rodeo bull rider
Every coach I have ever known has a story to tell of a certain athlete they will never forget. I just happen to have a few as well. I only coached for five years, but we had a kid at Andrews High School that was the hardest-toughest running back I have ever seen. He didn’t blossom into a special player until his junior year, but in his senior year, he was unstoppable. The coaches didn’t know he could run with the ball until his junior year.
Charles “Booger” Brooks was first of all a National Junior Bull Riding Champion. He started riding bulls at a very young age and continued his craft into his mid-30s. He was as tough as the bulls he rode.
There was always something about Booger that made him stand apart from the other classmates. I never saw him bully anyone, or start a fight. I never knew him to even be in a fight, but no one wanted to mess with Booger. I remember when he was in my eighth-grade science class when he was working on an assignment in class, and another student was playing around and interrupted what he was intently working on. I remember that “look” he gave the other guy, and that guy melted like butter. He never said a word, but “that look” said it all. Don’t mess with me.
In junior high, Booger was an average, but tough football player. Nothing special, he was just a solid hard-working young football player. As he developed physically, coaches noticed that this guy might turn out to be something special.
In high school, Booger was an average student in the classroom, but he sometimes didn’t make it to class or to practice. The coaching staff worked with Booger and soon had him doing what he needed to do in order to stay in school and play football.
The Mustangs were having a very good season and their future looked very good. In 1977, the final game on the schedule his senior season was with Ft. Stockton, who was leading the district with their strong prevent defense. They hadn’t been scored on much over the past two seasons, but Andrews was leading the district in offense, passing and rushing. It was a thriller and a real showdown.
When it was over, Andrews defeated Ft. Stockton and Booger Brooks had gained 271 yards running the ball. Brooks had to be gang-tackled. No single player could get him down. He had put on a show that night. He ran around, over, and through tacklers all night.
After high school, Booger was on the “Blue Chip” recruiting list and ended up going to play for Fred Ackers at Texas. After doing some impressive things his freshman year, he decided to go back to West Texas, he bought a welding truck and start welding in the oil fields and riding bulls when he wanted.
His leaving Texas shocked most people that had followed him through high school, but Booger was a guy that did not like to be told what he could or could not do. He was a Walt Garrison type of football player, but he leaned heavier on rodeo bull riding than on football.
The next year, the coaches at San Angelo University learned that Booger was working and wandering around in the oilfield and convinced him that he needed to be in school at San Angelo. Reluctantly, he reported for two-a-day summer practice, and it proved to be just what they were looking for. This guy still had it, and he could carry the ball. However, after some time, he packed it up and went back to welding and riding bulls where he didn’t feel the constraints of a football team’s rules and regulations.
Brad Beck was a blue-chip running back from Perryton and was at the University of Texas with Booger. In an interview, Beck said that Brooks was the “real deal.” He could play.
Several years ago, I tuned my TV to the Mesquite Rodeo broadcast, and the first guy out of the chute was Booger Brooks from San Angelo, Texas. He successfully made his ride, and I’m sure he made many more rides before he retired from bull riding into his mid to late 30s.
I have heard many people say, I just wish ole Booger would have played out his college years. He’d been something to watch, but old Booger Brooks just followed his dreams…welding out in West Texas and riding bulls. Football was just a game to him. I won’t forget Booger.
Photos courtesy of NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL, PROFESSIONAL RODEO COWBOYS ASSOCIATION & THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
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