The admissions office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced its early admission decisions at exactly 6:28 p.m. Eastern time on Dec. 14 as part of an obsession with pi, a formula in math and physics. Pi is really the number 3.14, so it was pi doubled when teenagers around the world learned their fate.
Eli Brooks, a standout linebacker at Brentwood with a 4.3 GPA and ACT score of 35 out of 36, was in his bedroom at 3:28 p.m. nervously pacing while listening to random music and trying to get up the courage to look on his computer to see if his name was on the acceptance list.
He clicked the link.
"Are you sure you want to see it?" was the response on his computer.
Those MIT admissions people are more vicious than Caltech.
Brooks clicked again.
"All I saw was 'we'd like to offer you admission to MIT,' " he said. "I started screaming."
His parents, who were in another room under orders from Brooks, also started screaming.
"They heard my primal scream. I think they had a louder primal scream, which is embarrassing," he said.
So how does a standout 6-foot-1, 200-pound football player who hasn't blown up any buildings with science projects get into MIT?
"My understanding was you have to be very good at math and science and maybe bad at English and history," he said. "I'm lopsided in my grades."
Brooks said it was football where he did most of his exploding.
"That's what I've been doing for the past six years, taking out my frustrations on other kids," he said. "I feel bad for them."
He called virtually every defensive play last season from his linebacker position and was considered the top West Coast recruit on defense for MIT, an NCAA Division III team.
But don't think for one minute football got Brooks into MIT. He wants to study biochemistry and become a doctor.
"I'm cut out for the profession. No one is going to be able to read my notes," he said.
Everyone else in the Brooks family is involved in the film and TV business. His father, Stan, has been a longtime producer. His mother and older brothers are in the business (and Brooks wants nothing to do with it). But his personality and humor could land him a spot on the Big Bang Theory.
Asked how he's going to fit in at MIT, Brooks said, "There's a lot of people doing their own stuff around campus and you can't walk 20 feet without running into someone who's won a Nobel Prize or is going to. If they all have a passion for math and science, I'll be fine."
Asked for the reaction of Brentwood classmates, Brooks said, "I get a lot, 'MIT has a football team?' People are very shocked."
Asked about his last science experiment, Brooks said, "I mixed acid and sulfurs to create an explosion. It first created a weird smell, warmed up and lit up. The fire department wasn't called. Our teacher had to come over and put a fire extinguisher all over it."
Asked about the weather, Brooks said, "I've heard a lot of about the weather there and that's one thing I'm not excited about. I think it's supposed to be 3 degrees right now."
Asked about meeting fellow Brentwood students at nearby Harvard, Brooks said, "That will be fun competition. Who's suffering more?"
Although Division III athletes don't sign letters of intent, he will be participating in a signing ceremony on Feb. 7.
"I'm very excited for my fake letter of intent. Maybe I'll make a huge smoke bomb and appear with an MIT shirt," he said.
Brooks does want everyone to know he likes pi and pie.
"You don't know how many times I have to use pi every day," he said. "I actually love pie."