2022 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Steel Valley’s Cruce Brookins


Thursday, June 23, 2022 | 5:11 p.m

Editor’s note: That tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network profile each member of the Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team of 25 players. Players will be honored on July 15 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

During Steel Valley’s 2022 football season, running back Nijhay Burt drew the most attention.

Burt rushed for 2,055 yards and 35 touchdowns to help the Ironmen to an 11-1 record and a WPIAL Class 2A Allegheny Conference title. Burt is on his way to eastern Illinois to continue his career.

But there was another player on the team who flew a little under the radar. It was junior quarterback/safety Cruce Brookins who rushed for 1,072 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also intercepted five passes.

“Cruce was overshadowed by Nijhay,” said Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo. “He’s a special player. When college coaches look at him, he checks the boxes. Aside from talent, he’s a great leader on and off the pitch. He is a hard worker and an excellent student.”

Brookins, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior, has received five offers so far: Akron, Fordham, Kent State, North Carolina A&T and West Virginia. He has also spoken to numerous other schools including Pitt, Cincinnati and Penn State.

“I expect more to come,” Brookins said. “I just have to keep working hard, then good things will happen.”

Brookins prefers to play defense, and college coaches recruit him as a defender.

“I like hitting people,” Brookins said. “I don’t like being hit. I expect my offensive role to expand this season. We’ll probably throw more, so I’ve been working on my arm this summer and throwing a lot to wide receivers.”

It’s not that the Brookins can’t pitch. He wasn’t asked, given the way Steel Valley ran football with Burt and Brookins. He completed 33 of 56 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re going to do a lot more with Cruce,” Braszo said. “He runs our spread offensive really well. People don’t know how fast he is. As soon as he gets through the line, he’s gone.”

Brookins said he enjoys being a leader. He and linebacker Angel Herrera will be on defense. Brookins directs the secondary.

Brookins said he grew up watching former West Virginia and NFL wide receiver Tavon Austin play, but it was his older brother Cameron who had his greatest influence.

“I loved watching my brother’s team play,” Brookins said. “I also loved watching the team game from 2016. They were insanely good. They have all ruled graciously.”

This team consisted of Paris Ford and was the WPIAL and PIAA Class 2A Champion.

“I think we have a good chance of being really good,” Brookins said. “We just have to keep working hard and getting better.”

And Brookins expects to lead the way.

Cruce Brookins

steel valley



quarterback, safety

Offers: Akron, Fordham, Kent State, North Carolina A&T and West Virginia

Statistics 2021: 33 of 56 passes for 339 yards and 4 TDs, 138 carries for 1,072 yards and 16 TDs. He had 49 tackles (10 solo, 39 assists), 5 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries.

Highlights: Hudl

Paul Schofield is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact Paul via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

tags: steel valley

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