#6 Jianni Woodson-Brooks (Photo courtesy of Woodberry Forest Athletics)
Navy picks up a commitment from Jianni Woodson-Brooks
by Byron Jones, recruit804
After accruing 24+ Division I offers, Woodberry Forrest’s Jianni Woodson-Brooks (2021 LB 6-0 220) narrowed his prospective list to six finalists on 6/30/2020. Villanova, Delaware, Air Force, Princeton, and Louisiana Monroe all made strong bids for his talents, but in the end Woodson-Brooks pledged his commitment to Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo and the Navy Midshipmen.
“It feels really nice. The stress of talking to different coaches and teams isn’t there anymore,” explained Woodson-Brooks. He continued, “I know what I’ll be getting from the Naval Academy. When I graduate, I’m going to be a better person and leader. I know I’m going to have a job waiting for me when I graduate. The service years don’t bother me at all.”
Navy is coming off an impressive 2019 campaign. The Midshipmen finished 11-2, winning the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy, a share of the American Athletic Conference West Division title, and the Liberty Bowl. Their eight-win improvement from the prior season is the second-best turnaround in FBS history. In his first season as Defensive Coordinator, Brian Newberry revamped the Midshipmen’s defensive unit and created a culture focused on forcing turnovers and wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Woodson-Brooks figures to play at the “Will” linebacker position for Coach Newberry, and he’s anxious to see what schemes he has in store for him.
“He’s one of the big reasons why I committed to Navy. I like his aggressive style of play. I believe his schemes and the way I will be utilized will take my blitzing game to the next level. I believe I’m naturally a good blitzer but I believe Coach Newberry can bring out my strengths and make me a more dominant player.”
Last week, the Executive Committee of the VISAA announced that they would leave the door open for individual member schools to compete in fall sports, but they would not sanction a state tournament. No official word on scheduling has been announced by Woodberry Forest at this point, but it is unlikely that Jianni will suit up for the Tigers if they do have a season. “Personally, I don’t know if it’s in my best interest to play or not yet. I’ll have to talk with Navy, my Head Coach at Woodberry, and my parents. It’s all up in the air at this point.”
Jianni finished his junior season with 77 tackles (12 TFL), three pass breakups, two sacks, and an interception. For his efforts, Woodson-Brooks earned a spot on the VISAA All-State Second Team.