KATY—After every game, Seven Lakes junior Dakyus Brinkley sits with his father, Jasper, and watches tape.
Father and son break down every play, first detailing Brinkley’s lowlights and then the highlights.
“Attention to detail,” preaches Jasper, who played seven years (2009-2015) in the NFL as an inside linebacker and totaled 316 tackles and nine forced fumbles. “It’s the little things.”
Brinkley studies and learns. Soaks it all in. And then the Brinkleys move on to game film on the next week’s opponent, searching for any and every edge, no matter how small.
“He’s been a huge influence, with football and outside of it,” Brinkley said of his father. “Especially because we played similar positions. In high school, he played outside linebacker and D-end, too. It’s about the little stuff. The details. If an O-line moves a certain type of way on a pull, he wants me to recognize that and know the play is coming my way.”
Brinkley is one of the top players in the Class of 2024. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound outside linebacker is a four-star recruit, per 247 Sports, with offers from Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, among others.
He is the prototypical edge rusher that modern football drools over.
Seven Lakes coach Jimmy Hamon knew as soon as Brinkley stepped onto campus as a freshman that he had something special. Brinkley had natural athleticism, a quick first step, strong hands and did things naturally beyond his years.
“Seeing him jump and run, for a guy his size who was probably 6-1 or 6-2 at the time, he was outrunning most of our guys,” Hamon said. “We just didn’t have a guy that size at 14 years old who was doing those things at a time when most kids are still growing into their body. He was just so coordinated and athletic.”
Brinkley admitted last season was bumpy as he transitioned from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Spartans’ 3-4 defense. He was moved around more, and he had different keys to read.
Brinkley compiled 36 total tackles and one sack in nine games.
“The toughest adjustment was reading my man on pass-drops,” Brinkley said. “But as I started to read better and my vision got better, I feel like things got better. It was very up and down but once I got used to it, it became easy to me. The fact I can move around more and go different places, I love it. I don’t have to stick to just one side or one assignment. I can play wherever.”
Brinkley knew he wanted to play football before he could even play football. He grew up in the game.
Not only was Jasper a standout at the University of Georgia and a 2009 fifth-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings, Brinkley’s uncle, Casper, was a standout defensive end at the University of South Carolina and spent time with the Carolina Panthers in 2008 and 2009.
“I remember wanting to play football but couldn’t, because I was so young,” Brinkley said. “I cried about it. I’d grown up seeing all my other family members play. I remember thinking that one day I wanted to be as good as them. It was heartbreaking for me to not play. Once I started playing when I was six, seven, I really fell in love with it.”
Brinkley considers himself a mix of dad and uncle. He has Jasper’s physicality and vision with Casper’s strength and speed.
“There’s pressure but, to me, I’m just going to play the game as hard as I can,” Brinkley said. “When I’m on the field, I just want to win. I’m not worried about anything else. I block all that other stuff out.”
Seven Lakes junior Dakyus Brinkley.VYPE Media
Hamon got to know Jasper well this summer as Brinkley’s recruiting started soaring.
Hamon admires Brinkley’s reserved nature and willingness to be coached, things he credited Jasper for.
“Coach, coach him hard,” Jasper told Hamon. “Don’t let his head get too big. Keep him humble. Keep reminding him he hasn’t made a name for himself yet.”
Hamon, entering his fifth season at the helm of Seven Lakes, said he appreciated how Jasper made sure Brinkley spent time around the Spartans this summer and was on campus early and often for strength and training, only missing to take visits to colleges.
“For someone as accomplished as he is in the game of football, his dad is never up here telling us what we’re doing wrong,” Hamon said. “He supports us. He listens. He does what we ask of any parent. He watches film with Dakyus and offers coaching points. He cares about Dakyus being around his high school teammates and coaches. He’s just the model parent. He’s supportive. He’s present. But he’s not overbearing.
“His dad has this old-school approach and I respect that. I appreciate it. That’s not always the way parents today are going.”
Hamon and his coaching staff spent the spring and summer devising personnel and substitution packages to disguise Brinkley on the field, finding ways for him to be as versatile as possible within the defensive scheme.
“What we try to do with (the 3-4) ends up being unique with how we use our personnel in it,” Hamon said. “A guy like Dakyus, he can be an outside linebacker, but we’re also going to have some opportunities for him at defensive end and swap for a lighter guy when we want a speed package. Drop Dakyus down to defensive end, bring a safety down to the outside ’backer and put another safety in.”
Brinkley is all but assured of going down as one of the greatest Spartans ever. Hamon mentions his potential and talent in the same breath as former SMU standout Braeden West (2015 Seven Lakes graduate), current New York Jet Caleb Benenoch (2012 graduate) and current Oklahoma Sooner David Ugwoegbu (2019 graduate).
“When you just finished your sophomore season and you’re getting the likes of Texas, Texas Tech and A&M coming your way … just yesterday, I got an email from Notre Dame,” Hamon said. “I think you’ll see him play and start on Saturdays. Dak is pretty special.”