Vikings draft Thomson alum Jasper Brinkley

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The MInnesota Vikings traded up in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and selected South Carolina OLB Jasper Brinkley with the 152nd pick.

Brinkley made a successful recovery from 2007 knee surgery, returning to the dominant force he displayed for the Gamecocks when he and his twin brother, Casper, joined the program in January 2006. To say that South Carolina missed him in 2007 would be an understatement, as the Gamecocks struggled considerably without their leader in the middle of the field.

Without Brinkley's services for the last eight games of the 2007 campaign, the defense finished 56 in the nation, yielding 378.08 yards per game and missed the postseason bowl action. With their middle linebacker leading the way, the Gamecocks improved dramatically in 2008, as they finished 13th in the nation in total defense, allowing only 291.92 yards per game and finished second in pass defense (159.23 ypg).

The Brinkley twins terrorized opponents during their days at Thomson High School. Jasper garnered All-Area and All-State first-team honors as a junior and senior. To improve their academic standing, both enrolled at Georgia Military College upon high graduation. Jasper captured team MVP honors as a freshman and sophomore, going on to be named an All-American second team choice while playing middle linebacker in 2005.

The brothers enrolled at South Carolina in time to participate in 2006 spring drills. Casper took over one defensive end spot while Jasper became an instant hit at middle linebacker. He earned All-Southeastern Conference honors while leading the team with 107 tackles, including 85 solo hits (79% of his total). He finished third on the squad with five sacks and led the squad with 14.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, ranking sixth in the conference with an average of 1.08 tackles for loss per game.

Brinkley was the only Gamecock to be listed on the All-SEC preseason team in 2007. He was also on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award and Lombardi Award Watch Lists. He totaled 21 tackles (15 solos) with a pair of interceptions, but suffered a right knee anterior ligament tear vs. Louisiana State, undergoing surgery and bringing his season to an end with eight games left on the schedule.

With his brother, Casper, having signed with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent, Jasper returned to South Carolina in 2008. He was named All-SEC second-team and returned to his familiar middle linebacker role. He ranked third on the squad with 65 tackles (42 solos), including 2.5 sacks and five stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also caused a pair of fumbles and had his third interception for his Gamecocks' career.