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From Touchdowns to Barbers: ASU Football's DeCarlos Brooks' Journey Home to the Sun Devil Spotlight

Taylyn Hadley Avatar
November 22, 2023

Hailing from Chandler, Arizona, ASU running back DeCarlos Brooks has many reasons for his ultimate return to his stomping grounds at Arizona State University. 

After spending four years at the University of California, Brooks traded in the blue and gold for maroon and gold and transferred to The Valley as a redshirt junior. 

With extra motivation in having a former high school coach on the ASU coaching staff and being closer to home, Brooks has already surpassed his previous season-high touchdown record by scoring three with the Sun Devils this season.

At 5-foot-9 and weighing 220 pounds, Brooks attributes much of his remarkable breakout year with the Sun Devils to the guidance of running backs coach Shaun Aguano.

If you have read any previous stories about ASU football, you would recognize Aguano’s name. 

This is because every ASU player that interacts with Aguano has the highest of praises for the coach in his fourth year with the program. 

This sentiment holds even stronger for Brooks, who sees Aguano not just as a coach but more akin to family.

Indeed, their coach-player dynamic has endured since their high school days, forming a longstanding and meaningful connection.

A running back coach and his kin

During his freshman year at Chandler High School, Brooks was just embarking on his football journey, side by side with Aguano.

“Honestly, it’s a great relationship,” Brooks said. “I’ve known him for a long time. You know, we’ve been through a lot of things together all since my freshman year of football in high school.”

Now, at the Division I level with the Sun Devils, the duo finds themselves reunited on the field once again.

Aguano has played a pivotal role in propelling Brooks to success, including being brutally honest with the young star in order to help him find the right placement on the field early on.

“I remember there’s a story, he didn’t think I was good enough to play running back my sophomore year, so I just played corner,” Brooks said. “He (eventually) moved me up (to) varsity.” 

Clearly the defensive position did not last long. 

Now, back in the running back position, Brooks is under the construction of Aguano in a brand-new fashion and in their fifth year together they have been fortunate enough to still hold the utmost respect for each other.

Forming a bond as special as theirs requires more than just familiarity; it demands a unique connection and shared experiences. 

Their bond goes beyond the realms of football, extending to shared conversations about food and other aspects of life.

Brooks occasionally joins Aguano and his wife Kristin for a meal, with Brooks offering high praise for her culinary skills. These shared meals provide a space for the two to connect and reflect on their football journey together.

A journey that has been built on respect and advice from one of the most decorated coaches in Arizona high school history.

“I just like how honest and genuine he is as a person and as a man,” Brooks said. “I can respect that because honestly, it’s the best thing for me. So, I really respect and appreciate that with coach Aguano.”

Brooks respects his opinions so much that Aguano is credited as a major reason for his transfer home to ASU. Coupled with Brooks’ excitement for Kenny Dillingham’s impact, it seemed like a perfect match for the running back.

“That’s a no brainer,” Brooks said. 

Returning home also provided him with the chance to give back to the community that played a crucial role in shaping and supporting his upbringing.

Brooks’ haircut event

For Brooks, giving back to his community involved intertwining his unique barbering skills and his outgoing personality. 

During the summer of 2023, Brooks organized a free haircut event, drawing over 30 families who came for summertime maintenance event. It served as a meaningful gesture to convey to his community that he had returned to his roots and was committed to staying.

“I really just wanted to give back,” Brooks said. “That was like, just my biggest thing for me coming back home. I was like, ‘Okay, what can I do to make a huge impact?’”

The idea originated from Brooks pursuing his side passion of cutting hair during his time at Cal. It proved to be the perfect blend, allowing him to showcase his skills while simultaneously giving back to the community.

The community-centered running back found the event to be so successful that he intends to make it an annual occurrence. With over 30 families in attendance at the inaugural turnout, the potential for the event’s growth in the coming years is promising.

In photos shared on Brooks’ social media pages, he proudly displayed his fresh cuts alongside pictures of the families he met. 

He shared that one of his favorite aspects of the event was connecting with people from diverse backgrounds, different ethnicities, and various life stories.

“Honestly, it was just a great event. I feel like I really touched a lot of people as well, “Brooks said. “There was a couple families that I hugged and they started crying just because they felt so emotional about just like me giving me back for free. I didn’t know how much of an impact I was having till I had this.”

Brooks’ impact on the field is constantly on display with 257 total yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and adding three touchdowns in just four games this season. His contributions to the local community are revealing the significant impact of his off-field efforts as well.

On top of showcasing his hair cutting skills to the community, Brooks serves as the go-to barber for the team. 

Brooks – the team barber

In a rare occurrence, Brooks has managed to earn the trust of his teammates, not only on the field but also off the field in his home made barbershop.

Brooks’ impressive skills have garnered such recognition that teammates have flooded his schedule with appointments for fresh haircuts to present their best appearance on the field.

An added bonus is that it allows him to earn a little money on the side while indulging in a hobby for which he holds immense passion.

“I got like 20+ people that come to me,” Brooks said. “I give them a little team discount just because they my teammates, so I’m not gonna tax them or nothing like that.”

The trust that Brooks has cultivated among his teammates extends beyond just getting haircuts; The Chandler native has been able to reconnect with some old friends on the team on top of cultivating new ones. 

Afterall, if his teammates can trust him to give 110% on the field, then they can trust him with a pair of scissors and a razor. 

Brooks mentioned signing alongside some familiar faces in linebacker Tre Brown, who began his first year with the Sun Devils this season after coming from Washington. Additionally, he’s joined by another first-year teammate from Cal, offensive lineman Ben Coleman.

Certainly, Brooks has forged bonds with nearly everyone on the team, spanning across offense, defense, special teams, and redshirts. In addition to reconnecting with old college companions, the Chandler native has numerous connections throughout the ASU team that he has known since his youth.

“It feels great, honestly, like me just coming back home,” Brooks said. “I already knew some people but like, I cultivated a lot of friendships here.”

Seeing all that Brooks has to offer, the running back seems poised for a promising future within the Sun Devil community.

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