Brooks: 'It filled my heart'

Leading up to the NFL Draft, current and former Steelers' players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, safety Antoine Brooks Jr. shared his story.

Antoine Brooks Jr.
Sixth Round

"It was real big getting to go to the combine. It was like a dream. I always thought about doing it when I was little. It was a dream for me. I didn't know at that time what was going to happen with the combine, but I was blessed and happy to be there.

"The combine is something you just don't know what to expect. You don't realize what you are doing until you are there. You get up early every day. You have to do all of the meetings, be and perform your best. You have to be ready for everything.

"I didn't have a big interview with the Steelers at the combine. I had a small one, the five-minute interviews they have with players. If a team talks to you, there is some type of interest. I took it all as a blessing. Talking to the coaches, even for five minutes, it was a blessing. I felt comfort talking to people. I felt confident.

"It was the ultimate job interview. Everything about it. They check on your physical side with the doctors, you have to weigh in in front of everybody and you go through the interviews. It's the craziest job interview.

"I was able to get some sleep. I normally don't have a problem sleeping, but the sleep schedule was definitely off while there.

"Because of COVID, my pro day at Maryland got cancelled. I wanted to go out there and show my skills at home. It was tough not being able to have it. Everyone feels better doing the drills and things at their home place. I missed that opportunity. The other players get to all be there from the school showing their best.

"There weren't any in person interviews, but I did have some Zoom interviews, but not with the Steelers. It was different. The first thing you had to do was make sure the WiFi works. It wasn't too bad though. Everyone was patient with it and made sure they got done. That is the life we live in, so we have to get used to it. Not sure if it was better or not on Zoom. Some teams like the eye contact, like to see how you react in person. Some teams it didn't matter. On the Zoom calls you didn't really know who you were looking at all of the time. At the combine, the in person ones I did I liked better.

"I was in Maryland for the draft at my aunt's house in my high school neighborhood, where I played high school football. I was right near there. It was a good feeling. My mom was there, my sisters.

"I had patience watching the draft. I knew how stuff works. I was just sitting there waiting, hoping to get called. You don't have any control over it, over what teams want, who they want. I wanted a team that believed in me and I would believe in them. I was just happy it was the Steelers. I actually felt like I was going to the Steelers when they drafted Anthony McFarland, because that was my friend, my college teammate, my roommate. It was weird. I just felt like they were going to draft me. When they did, I was shocked.

"When the phone rang, and it was the Steelers. I am not really a crier, my mom, she isn't done crying yet. I just smiled. I was smiling from cheek to cheek. She was too. It was a good feeling talking to Coach (Mike) Tomlin. I wanted this for a long time. When he called, and then hung up at the end, it's shock that you got that call. You finally made it to where you want to be.

"It's a dream come true when you look at the television and see your name, see your highlights on the NFL Network. As a player, a person, you are so happy you got drafted.

"My whole family that wasn't there, after I was selected, they did a drive by parade on the street. The drive by parade was one of the best things I have ever seen, having all of that support from my family. They were always there for me. I have a big family, a supportive family. When I got drafted, it only took about 10 minutes and all you saw was black and yellow driving by. There were Terrible Towels waving. In my family, one side grew up Washington fans and then Steelers. The other side grew up Steelers fans and then Washington. When things fully open up at Heinz Field, there will be about 60 family members there because now we are all just Steelers fans.

"The support they showed me, it filled my heart up. It makes me want to work so much harder. I want to make sure I keep a smile on all of their faces. I appreciate everything my family has done for me. They have always been here for me. It feels amazing for my family to have a nephew, cousin in the NFL. It feels amazing."