As he does season after season, Tennessee assistant coach Dan Brooks had his defensive line playing its best football down the stretch of 2007.
And it was defensive tackle Dan Williams who made one of the season's signature plays, blocking a Kentucky field goal in overtime to help the Vols advance to the SEC Championship Game. Afterward, Williams gave Brooks all the credit for his preparation and ability to rise to the moment.
Brooks' remarkable run of success as mentor of the UT defensive line continues into this 15th season in Big Orange Country. And although Brooks is highly regarded in coaching circles at the national level, he also considers himself a player's coach who has the full confidence of those performing around him.
Such former Vols and current NFL notables as John Henderson, Darwin Walker, Albert Haynesworth, Shane Burton, Demetrin Veal, Tony McDaniel, Aubrayo Franklin Jesse Mahelona and Rashad Moore, just to name a few, are among those to have benefited from Brooks' coaching expertise.
Prior to the 2006 season, Justin Harrell was prepared to set the standard for excellence until injuring his biceps muscle in the second game of the season. Still, Harrell displayed the toughness and strength developed under Brooks by playing through the injury in one final game against rival Florida. Harrell was rewarded for his overall determination when the Green Bay Packers selected him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Harrell was joined in that draft by teammate Turk McBride, who was a second-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs.
A measure of Phillip Fulmer's confidence in Brooks came after the 1998 season when he designated Dan to take on additional duties as the Vols' recruiting coordinator. Brooks has since passed along those responsibilities, but during his stint the Vols annually ranked among the nation's elite in the recruiting wars.
His previous experience as a coach included stops at Florida and North Carolina. And the veteran Carolina native still has the zest for football he experienced when he was given his first job at Western Carolina in 1975.
A Western Carolina graduate, Brooks received his master's from Florida. He coached at Western Carolina, Kings Mountain (N.C.) High School and Florida before taking a job with Mack Brown at North Carolina in 1988.
In 1990, the North Carolina defense set a school record by registering 45 sacks, of which 19 were by the defensive line. In Brooks' final season before coming to UT, the Tar Heels led the Atlantic Coast Conference in sacks with 38.
The 2000 Vols recorded an SEC-leading 50 sacks, a school record, and the 2001 unit again led the league in sacks with 34. The 1996 Big Orange posted another school mark, 83 tackles for lost yardage.
In 2005, Tennessee led the SEC in rushing defense and ranked second in Division I-A.
Brooks, after the 1998 national championship season at UT, was awarded recognition as the Southeastern Conference's outstanding defensive line coach.
Brooks and his wife, the former Kathy Whitaker, are the parents of two children. Tara recently graduated from UT and currently serves as the Lady Vols' Director of Student-Athlete Services, while Rhett is a member of the Murray State football team.
June 25, 1951, Sparta, N.C.
BOWL GAME COACHING HISTORY