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Cal Football: Running Back Christopher Brooks Explains Why He Changed His Name

The senior made the switch to honor his mother, who provided him his work ethic.

No. 34 in your Cal football program is now Christopher Brooks. 

Christopher Brown Jr., has been retired — the name, anyway.

Raised in the southern California community of Oceanside by his single mother, Raquel Brooks, the senior running back made the legal change to his name this spring in order to honor his mom.

Brooks downplays the change, suggesting it was a matter-of-fact decision based on who provided him a stable upbringing.

“My mom represents a hard-working person,” Brooks said Saturday after Cal’s second practice of fall camp. “She’s someone who means a lot to me and I just want to represent her.”

A psychology major with a 3.48 grade-point average. Brooks is on schedule to graduate at the close of the fall semester, after three-and-a-half years. He said his mother helped him create the mindset that has allowed him to navigate his academic and athletic paths.

“She really instilled in me hard work and anything’s possible. No matter what trials you are going through, you can get through it,” he said.

Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has a front-row seat to that work ethic.

“He’s working hard. He’s always working hard, from my time here the last 18 months,” the Bears’ second-year coordinator said. ‘He’s a terrific worker and leader.”

The 2020 season was a tough one for the Bears and for Brooks. The COVID-19 pandemic whittled Cal’s schedule down to four games, and the Bears won just once, beating eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon.

Brooks, who rushed for more than 900 yards in 2019 despite shoulder problems, was hampered by a hamstring injury last season and carried the ball just 21 times over three games.

“He’s worked hard to get back to being himself. He’s been really outstanding these first two days,” Musgrave said. “He looks more dynamic. He’s someone we’re really glad to have on our team.”

Asked where Brooks fits into the offense, Musgrave said, “He’s important, they all are. We’ve got a great stable of backs there, so we intend to use ‘em all.”

Brooks, Cal’s biggest back at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, does not dwell on last season, suggesting it’s not in his nature to look back.

“I don’t really think of anything as difficult or frustrating. It’s just a chance to basically learn from whatever happened,” he said. “I’m not overly emotional. I’m not going to really think too much about what happened in the past. It’s a new day, a new year.

“Every single day is a chance to just get better. If we focus on what happened last year and the year previous, we’ll never go forward. That’s why I just come here to work every single day.”

Asked to provide Cal fans with an idea of what they will see this fall, Brooks said, “You guys can expect to see a nice, productive offense.”

Cover photo of Christopher Brooks by Troy Wayrynen, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo