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Bucky Brooks, the Buffalo Bills' second draft choice, has a Superman tattoo on his right arm.

The significance is obvious, considering the North Carolina wide receiver's 4.36 speed in the 40-yard dash.

That makes Brooks faster than . . . just about anyone on the Bills' roster.

"He's a vertical guy," said Bills director of player personnel Dwight Adams. "He can fly. He's a big bodied guy, with big quads and big hips, and we really like him."

Cornerback J.D. Williams and his 4.29 speed went to Arizona in an off-season trade, so the title of fastest man on the Bills figures to go to Brooks. Receiver Don Beebe ran a 4.32 out of college and probably is a close second.

Brooks, however, also fulfills the second main criterion the Bills had for a receiver -- size. He is 5 feet 11 1/2 and 191 pounds.

The NFL trend toward bigger receivers is epitomized by Michael Irvin (6-2) and Alvin Harper (6-3) of the Dallas Cowboys.

"When man-to-man defense was popular, you needed these little jack-rabbit route runners that could release off the line and separate (from the cornerback) real quick, like (Ernest) Givins of Houston," Adams said. "Zones are more dominant now, so you want a bigger guy who can outrebound them, like Irvin and Harper, like James Lofton could do."

There's no question Brooks can go long.

He averaged a North Carolina-record 20.6 yards on 25 catches as a senior last season in the Tar Heels' option-style, run-oriented offense.

"I definitely would say my speed and my ability to make big plays are my strengths," Brooks said from his home in Raleigh, N.C. "We threw the ball more my senior year than any other time in my career. We used a lot of play-action passes and option passes, but we didn't pass out of a pro-set offense."

Brooks' big plays last season included a 47-yard catch against Southern Cal, a 49-yard touchdown reception against Duke and a 28-yard TD catch and 32-yard reverse against Florida State.

Brooks caught 21 passes for a 19-yard average as a junior. He sat out the previous year as a red-shirt after making little impact his first two seasons.

Adams said Brooks improved a lot the past two seasons.

"He had great speed (his first two years), but he didn't have solid hands," Adams said. "His hands got better."

His redshirt season helped him.

"It probably helped Bucky as much as anything," said Tar Heels coach Mack Brown. "He worked against our best defensive backs all fall."

Bills scouts say Brooks must learn how to use his speed and go over the middle in the NFL.

Brooks, 23, whose real first name is William, is a speech communications major who will graduate next month.

He joins a receiving corps that includes Andre Reed, Bill Brooks (no relation), Beebe, Russell Copeland, Steve Tasker, Brad Lamb, Al Edwards and sixth-round draft choice Kevin Knox of Florida State. Last year, the Bills kept seven receivers (five active, two inactive) on their 53-man roster.

"You'll enjoy this guy," Adams said of Brooks. "Is he going to come out and replace somebody? I didn't say that. It's going to take him awhile. How long is awhile? He's gonna help us in '94. The coaches will say when."

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