Munhall, Pa. — Steel Valley three-star athlete Cruce Brookins committed to the Pittsburgh Panthers on early signing day.
He chose the hometown Panthers over offers from Syracuse and Cincinnati.
Brookins decommitted from Kent State in early December when Golden Flashes’ head coach Sean Lewis left for Colorado. He picked up an offer from Pitt the same week, and said he knew right away he wanted to be a Panther, even before he got a chance to make an official visit.
“As soon as they offered me,” Brookins said. “[Pitt has] always been a dream school of mine.”
Brookins will play safety at Pittsburgh, honing his skills under head coach Pat Narduzzi’s aggressive defense. He said that the Panthers’ track record of sending defensive backs to the big leagues helped his choice.
#7 Cruce Brookins Senior Year Highlight Tape !! @DulinOlando @sharkomartin @OneWayWo @210ths
2,336 all purpose yards ,41 total Touchdowns ,41 total tackles ,7 interceptions. https://t.co/38syMnifkv pic.twitter.com/L6sLqXU5eN
— Cruce Brookins (@BrookinsCruce) December 6, 2022
“They’ve put a lot of DB’s in the NFL,” Brookins said. “It would be great to be heading to that list.”
A rangy athlete who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds, Brookins received little interest from Power 5 teams going into his senior season. Serving as the Ironmen’s starting quarterback and playing safety, Brookins boosted his stock with a standout season—2,336 all purpose yards, 41 total touchdowns and tackles, as well as seven interceptions—captaining Steel Valley to the state semifinals.
Brookins said he knew a breakout season was coming because of his summer training regimen.
“I knew with the work I put in all summer that it was going to happen eventually,” Brookins said. “It happened to happen in my senior season.”
Brookins follows in the footsteps of Steel Valley safety Paris Ford, who joined the Panthers for four seasons after leading the Ironmen to the 2016 PIAA 2A State Championship in a perfect 15-0 season. He said he talked with Ford prior to committing.
“I talked to him a little bit. He did a lot of great things there,” Brookins said. “He just talked about how great it is down there, and that it’s a great school.”
Before announcing his choice, Brookins took a moment to recognize those who helped him secure a Division I scholarship. A devout Christian, he spoke to the role faith has played in his journey.
“First and foremost I want to thank the man above, my Lord and Savior. Without His guidance and reassurance, I don’t know where I would be,” Brookins said. “I want to thank my mom and dad for all the sacrifices they made for me to be in this position I’m in today.”