The way Bryan Brokop pancakes opponents on film, it is hard to believe that until recently, he had been playing the much more docile sport of golf. Lincoln-Way West head coach Dave Ernst could not let his size (6'4, 275) and ability get away though, and the sophomore lineman's first taste of being recruited came from Coach Ernst himself.
"He's only been playing football for a year and a half," Ernst says. "We had been trying to get him out for football and finally, week six freshman year he came out and we brought him up to varsity for the playoffs and then he started his whole sophomore year at right guard."
Brokop says his father was a big-time golfer and that is what got him into that sport. However, football was also in his blood.
"I came from a big family," Brokop explains, "and my uncle played offensive line at Vanderbilt and another uncle played linebacker at Eastern, so all the coaches had been bugging me about it to come on out and I never gave football a try growing up, but instantly I was hooked. I'm in love with it. It's awesome."
His opponents, the victims of his physical blocking style, probably wished he had stayed on the links.
"If you watch week one film or my freshman year film, it's a big change. My body changed and I became more flexible, faster, stronger, more agile. Going out there and instead of smacking the golf ball around, smacking people around, it was enjoyable. All that release and playing with teammates and playing a physical sport, it was ten times better than golf, I can tell you that."
College coaches are happy he made the move too. After Ernst sent his film along with workout clips of him doing hurdles, Nebraska became the first school to extend an offer last weekend. A few days later, Illinois followed and now West, who had Colin McGovern sign with Notre Dame in the 2013 class, is threatening to have another national recruit on their hands.
At this point, Brokop maintains that he is open to all programs, which is a good thing, considering how quickly his recruitment is likely to take off.
"It's all coming fast. I'm open to every school obviously. I've always kind of been a Michigan fan. Brother Ohio State fan so I always kind of rooted for Michigan."
This week will be one Brokop remembers for the rest of his life. The significance of the opportunities presented to him in that time are not lost on him.
"It's truly a blessing. Around school and family, all the commotion, all the congratulations and all that stuff, it's really exciting. It's really a thrilling opportunity. It's still a shock to me after I only just played my first full year of football. I'm looking forward to learning more about colleges, finish out my high school career and get bigger, stronger, faster."
More Where That Came From
Brokop is not the only lineman Ernst has in his stable. Fellow sophomore Justin Witt has an intriguing frame (6'6, 240) and skill set.
"He's on the varsity basketball team. He's a really good athlete. He has to get stronger, but he'll probably be our left tackle. He started at center for three or four games and played tight end for us too."
He added, "Ohio State, Northwestern, North Carolina State, those schools have been out on [Witt and Brokop]. I think they're can't miss Division-1 guys."
West also has a 6-foot-4, 260-pound freshman who may start at center this year and a couple of seniors beginning to hear from more schools.
"Our other two offensive linemen got invited to Illinois. Jake Zola, he's 6-foot-3, 290 and Jake Heckler, he's 6-foot-3, 250."