By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Attention has never been a top priority for Stillwater High School safety Brooks Zimmerman. He doesn’t hoot and holler when he makes a big play or jump around after an interception.
He just does his job. Right down to the book.
“He’s just a different player,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “His intelligence drives how he plays, whereas someone like King (Williams) uses his instincitive ability to guide his play.”
Zimmerman may not be the most talented player on the Stillwater defense, but one thing is certain, he is effective.
Don’t believe it? Just look at the last three weeks in which Zimmerman has been sidelined with a concussion.
“It was tough,” Zimmerman said. “(Ponca City) was the first high school game I missed. Last year, I played every game and pretty much every play and it’s been the same this year.”
Stillwater may have missed Zimmerman against Union, but it wasn’t just because he’s one of the team’s leading defenders. It’s because he has the ability to change the game.
“It starts with having a good week of practice with everybody on the same track with all the coverages,” Zimmerman said. “It goes back to watching film also. Just knowing what your opponent can do, what plays they run and just how you can stop them.”
That’s where Zimmerman finds his success.
He’ll spend hours in the Stillwater locker room disecting film with anyone willing to watch with him. Sometimes, it’s even film of himself.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Barnard said. “He understands what we’re doing and our route concepts. He’s just a student of the game, and I think that’s helped him be a step quicker this year.”
Another thing that’s also helped? Having plenty of advice about how to play defense.
From the coaching staff and Williams to older brother Parker Zimmerman giving the occasional advice when he can, there’s plenty of information coming in. But it’s trying to figure out how to use that information that’s been a challenge at times for Zimmerman.
“Last year, really prepared me a lot more for this year,” Zimmerman said. “I’m a lot more comfortable out there and just knowing what the defense is about. I feel like I’m starting to develop into one of those leaders that people look up to, so now I have to set an example.”
Zimmerman may not have the flash of Williams or even the pizzazz of his older brother, but that’s alright with him. By his own accord, he spends plenty of time lurking in the shadows waiting to help create that key play.
“King is obviously a great player and I just go out there and play as hard as I can,” Zimmerman said. “I just try to go out there and do my job and let everybody else make plays.”
“It’s great to have a mix of players like that,” Barnard said. “King is a completely different player than Brooks, but they compliment each other so well back there. They’re both really good at communicating and I think that’s really the key.”
And while Zimmerman may not get all the attention he deserves, often being overshadowed by his brother’s success and the success of his saftey counterpart, Barnard said Zimmerman will see some time in the spotlight before his Stillwater career is over.
“I think he has great potential,” Barnard said. “He probably has as high of a ceiling as anybody in our program right now. He’s just a great football player who is going to continue to grow and get better.
“He’s still got some things to work on like the deep ball but he’s steadily growing in his role. He’s been one of our leading tacklers and right now we’re just trying to broaden that scope of what he can do.”