Wide receiver Phillip Brooks sets punt return record in blowout win over KU

Kansas State sophomore wide receiver Phillip Brooks runs for a touchdown against Kansas at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Emily Starkey)

Sophomore wide receiver Phillip Brooks made history on the punt return in Kansas State’s lopsided win over KU Saturday.

Brooks was a crucial part of K-State’s 55-14 victory in the Sunflower Showdown. He got them on the board in the first quarter with a 55 yard punt return. Then, he got the ball again at the start of the second quarter and was impressive this time too, taking it 40 yards to the KU 19 yard line.

Brooks made KU pay for kicking it to him a third time in the half, after head coach Chris Klieman elected to take a timeout with eight seconds remaining in the first half, forcing KU to hand the ball over one final time before halftime. He took it to the house — a 52 yard return by Brooks was good for his second touchdown of the day, putting his squad up 34-7 as time expired in the first half.

Apparently, the two touchdowns and 147 yards in the first half were not enough for the Jayhawks to learn their lesson, because they punted it to him yet again in the second half. Brooks took this one for 42 yards, making it his fourth return of 40 or more yards in the game.

This return also put Brooks at 189 return yards, marking a new K-State record for punt return yards in a single game. The previous record was held by David Allen, who had 172 punt return yards against Texas in 1998.

Brooks credited those assisting him on the punt return unit multiple times.

“There was a lot of good blocking.” Brooks said. “We just executed on the opportunities.”

Klieman gave high praise to Saturday’s star player.

“He’s a talented young man, that understands blocking and understands angles, and sets things up so well.” Klieman said on Brooks. “When he gets a chance, the ball’s in his hands, anything can happen.”

Klieman also called Brooks’ return at the end of the first half, “a huge momentum boost.”

K-State is living up to their, “Special Teams U” reputation. Brooks second returning touchdown of the day was the 120th non-offensive touchdown K-State has tallied since 1999. This number is the most in the country, 12 touchdowns ahead of second place Alabama and Virginia Tech.

Freshman starting quarterback Will Howard needed only one word to describe the performance of Brooks on Saturday.

“Incredible,” Howard said. “Having a guy like that make plays like that, that makes my job easy.”