J.D. Brookhart is in his second year as the offensive passing game coordinator, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at Colorado, having joined Jon Embree's original staff in the second wave of hires on December 14, 2010.
Overall, he is in his 17th season of coaching, his 15th on the collegiate level which includes six years as a head coach. He and Embree have a relationship that dates back to their high school days, despite attending rival colleges in the state.
In his first season at CU, helped Darragh O'Neill, a walk-on punter, develop into a scholarship-worthy player who posted the second best average by a freshman in the nation.
Brookhart, 47, has an extensive coaching resume which includes six years (2004-09) as head coach at Akron University. The Mid-America Conference Coach of the Year for 2004, he was 30-42 overall in those six seasons, highlighted by the school's first MAC championship in 2005, which also earned the Zips their first-ever postseason bowl invitation.
With Akron having only gained Division I-A (FBS) status in 1987, Brookhart led the Zips to many firsts in program history, including the team's first bowl trip in 2005 where they fell to Memphis in the Motor City Bowl. In 2006 and 2008, the Zips posted wins over a pair of BCS teams when they defeated North Carolina State and Syracuse, respectively. In that '08 season, Brookhart's squad was tied for the lead in the MAC East Division with Buffalo when the two squads battled into a four overtime before the Bulls pulled out a 43-40 victory.
At Akron, he oversaw staffs that assembled the best recruiting classes in the MAC as determined by various publications in the winters 2005, 2006 and 2007. He was known as an offensive innovator with offenses led by Charlie Frye and then Luke Gesty, who rank first and third on the Zips all-time passing lost, with nearly every offensive record the Zips had fall during his tenure there. Domenik Hixon and Jabari Arthur, both of whom he helped make strategic moves from defense to wide receiver, rank first and third on the Zips career receptions chart as well
Brookhart had one of his players drafted into the National Football League, all in the first four rounds, in his first four seasons as head coach with Frye, Hixon, Andy Alleman and Reggie Corner all being selected. That feat over four years was only matched by 23 other schools and the Zips were the only non-BCS automatic qualifier to do so.
He began his coaching career with the Denver Broncos as an assistant in 1995 under then first-year head coach Mike Shanahan. In that role, he coordinated the defensive scout team and breaking down the opponent offenses while also working with special teams, all the time studying the west coast offense.
After two seasons with the Broncos, Brookhart entered the collegiate ranks, joining Walt Harris' staff at the University of Pittsburgh as tight ends coach while assisting with special teams, serving in that capacity for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. He then took over the wide receivers in 1999, the position he would coach the next five seasons, including after he was named offensive coordinator the following year (2000). Among the players he coached were Antonio Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald, both Biletnikoff Award winners who went on to stardom in the NFL; Fitzgerald was also the runner-up to the 2003 Heisman Trophy.
By the time he left Pitt after the 2003 season for Akron, the Panthers had appeared in the postseason four straight years, and twice produced top 20 passing offenses under his tutelage (18th in 2000 and 14th in 2003) with his wide receiver units mainly responsible for the potent offense. He also coached three other NFL wide receivers in Latef Grim (Detroit Lions), Darcey Levy (Pittsburgh Steelers) and R.J. English (Atlanta Falcons) in his time with the Panthers.
Prior to getting into coaching, he had spent his first half dozen years after college as a salesman for The International at Castle Pines (PGA tournament) and Xerox in the Denver area before taking a job selling ultrasound equipment in Salt Lake City, eventually realizing he wanted to get into coaching.
He spent one year at BYU as a walk-on receiver before transferring to Colorado State, where started for three seasons and finished his career ranked sixth in both career receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,873), numbers that still has him the Rams' top 10. He graduated from CSU in 1988, earning his degree in Business (Finance); he was a first-team GTE Academic All-American as a senior in 1987.
Brookhart was born October 16, 1964 in Pueblo, Colo., and graduated from Englewood's Cherry Creek High School where he played high school football with Embree (and were coached by his father, Jack Brookhart). After college, he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Rams, where he was reunited in camp with Embree, who was drafted by the club the year before. Brookhart and his wife Jami have four sons, Joseph (13), Jamison (10), John (7) and Jake (4).
TOP PLAYERS COACHED: All-Americans (3): Jabari Arthur, Antonio Bryant (Biletnikoff Award Winner), Larry Fitzgerald (Biletnikoff Award Winner/Heisman Runner-Up). All-Big East/MAC Performers (27): Arthur, Brett Biggs, Deryn Bowser, Jalil Carter, Reggie Corner, Bryant, Fitzgerald, Charlie Frye, Luke Getsy, Kiki Gonzalez, Miguel Graham, Kevin Grant, Latef Grim, David Harvey, Domenik Hixon, Andre Jones, Chris Kemme, Dennis Kennedy, Greg Lee, John Mackey, Dashan Miller, Jay Rohr, Almondo Sewell, Brion Stokes, Bryan Wagner, Bryan Williams, Corey Woods. Big East Offensive Players of the Year (2): Bryant, Fitzgerald. NFL Players/Draft Picks (9): Andy Alleman, Bryant, Corner, Fitzgerald, Frye, Grim, Hixon, Darcey Levy, R.J. English.
RECORD: He has coached in 169 Division I-A games as a full-time coach, owning a record of 77-92, including 30-42 as the head coach at Akron and 44-40 as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh. He has coached in six bowl games, one as a head coach and five as an assistant.