Better Know a Buckeye: Dante Booker

By Vico on April 3, 2014 at 11:00a
Dante Booker

U.S. Army All-American Bowl photo

15 Comments

The sixth edition of the Better Know a Buckeye series continues with the eighth installment, profiling Dante Booker. Booker joins high school teammate Parris Campbell as a combo deal in Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.

Though he committed after his high school teammate, Booker was the original apple of Ohio State's eye through 2012. By whatever measure you use, Booker is the top-rated player in Ohio for this recruiting class. If he is listed second, he is behind future teammate Erick Smith for that honor.

Though Booker's recruitment began in the spring of 2012, it was mostly uneventful. Booker acquired offers from near and far. However, Ohio State was always the school to beat. He committed to Ohio State in May of last year. I recap his recruitment in the next section.

The profile continues in the usual fashion thereafter. I discuss Booker's strengths and areas for improvement. I conjecture about a possible redshirt in 2014 for Booker. Then, I provide some highlights for you to watch before concluding with miscellaneous things about Dante Booker you may find interesting.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 212
High School: St. Vincent–St. Mary High School; Akron

His Recruitment

Dante Booker's recruitment starts in the spring of 2012 when he was extended a scholarship to Ohio State after his sophomore year of football. It was his first scholarship offer. It was also not a bad way to effectively start his recruitment.

Booker received words of the offer via a telephone call with Urban Meyer, who informed him he had a scholarship waiting for him in Columbus. It came shortly after an unofficial visit to Columbus. Booker vowed to take another one.

Thereafter, offers, and big ones, came for Booker. Through April and May of 2012, Booker acquired offers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, and Penn State. In the following autumn of his junior year, he also acquired offers from Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

However, Ohio State was always the team to beat even as Booker professed to wanting more recognition and offers from SEC schools like Auburn and Louisiana State. Interest in Ohio State picked up through the summer when he attended the first Friday Night Lights camp at Ohio State. His father recounted that they both had a great time at the event. More importantly, Booker had a great time talking with former Ohio State players like Mike Doss, Andy Katzenmoyer, and Orlando Pace. He also interacted with the coaching staff, particularly Meyer and then-regional recruiter and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel.

Though Booker took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in the fall of his junior year, Ohio State was still the team to beat. The critical juncture in his recruitment was the 2012 state championship game against Bellevue, which ended in a decisive 42-21 victory for St. Vincent-St. Mary. Without a postseason for which to prepare after concluding an undefeated season, Ohio State's coaches went on a recruiting blitz and arrived en masse to Fawcett Stadium for this game.

Booker had a game-high nine tackles in a game, though his teammate, Parris Campbell, stole the show with a rushing performance of 165 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns. This game cemented Ohio State as the leader for the duration of Booker's recruitment and started Parris Campbell's recruitment to Ohio State. Campbell was offered a scholarship to Ohio State two months later and committed on the spot.

Booker's recruitment dragged for a few months after that, though there was little drama to the eventual decision. Booker had no known timetable for a decision. He was on that January 12-13 unofficial visit with Parris Campbell and took two unofficial visits to Notre Dame after that. However, he was going to be a Buckeye eventually.

His Commitment

On May 23, 2013, Dante Booker committed to Ohio State as the eighth member of the 2014 recruiting class. He said the time felt right.

"Overall I just felt right to pull the trigger... It feels like home and it's the best place to be right now to play college football. I wanted to play for my family and all the fans in the Horseshoe two hours away."

Eleven Warriors also interviewed him shortly after the NFTC combine at Ohio State and asked him about the decision.

 

Though Booker had his pick of college choices, including big programs like Michigan and Oklahoma, the primary competition for the Catholic school product was Notre Dame.

Where He Excels

Unlike Kyle Berger in the last profile and Sam Hubbard in the profile before that, Booker seems to be a weakside linebacker if he sees the field for Ohio State. Berger is a strongside linebacker prospect who could slide inside to middle linebacker and Hubbard could grow into a weakside defensive end.

There is a lot to like in Booker's film and a lot that underscores his position as almost a consensus top-two player in the state of Ohio.

Booker plays the linebacker position fast. Some of that is sheer speed. The closing speed he demonstrates in film makes him look like a one-man drive killer. More of that is timing and awareness. Booker times blitzes very well, which allows him to accentuate his closing speed to finish plays behind the line of scrimmage. 

He demonstrates great lateral agility too, ideal for a linebacker in his position. He has the athleticism to get sideline to sideline to stop running plays. He can also turn his hips and pick up a tight end in pass coverage.

In short, Ohio State fans have reason to be excited about Booker's addition to the linebacker corp.

Must Work On

Booker is tall but not necessarily big. His high school coach is aware of this and thinks Booker has another growth spurt in him. College football players usually do as they focus exclusively on their craft. Still, strength is an area for improvement.

Redshirt?

This one is tough as I am still learning about how Meyer approaches redshirting true freshmen. My guess is no, but I also do not think he gets a lot of playing time on defense. He might be a special team player in his freshman year.

Highlights

This should be a mix of his junior and senior year. I think the first play is his forced fumble from the 2012 state championship game.

Miscellany

  • Father, also Dante Booker, played for Auburn in the early 2000s. If Auburn had jumped into the fray earlier, it's conceivable Booker's recruitment would have looked a little bit different. It may not have mattered to the final outcome, though.
  • He participated in The Opening combine in Oregon, along with almost everyone else in his recruiting class. He had a pick six in a seven-on-seven drill.
  • St. Vincent-St. Mary repeated as state champions in Booker's senior season. The Irish won 24-0 in the state championship game over Trotwood-Madison.
  • Participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl along with Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Jaylyn Holmes, Demetrius Knox, Marshon Lattimore, Curtis Samuel, Erick Smith, and Damon Webb. He had a good week of practice in San Antonio, though was rather quiet through the exhibition itself.
  • He was named Mr. Football in Ohio in 2013.
  • He and Raekwon McMillan are the only two Buckeyes to be named All-Americans by Parade.
  • Recipient of the American Family Insurance defensive player of the year award.
  • Finished the season with 113 tackles and two interceptions.
15 Comments

Comments

Oakland Buckeye's picture

if he sees the field for Ohio State

HUH? Pretty sure Mr Football will see the field....

-1 HS
Oakland Buckeye's picture

Thanks for the DV jackass... My comment was made on a direct quote from Vico - who actually used the phrase "if he sees the field for Ohio State" - I called him out for that comment when we are talking about the #1 player in the great State of Ohio, & Mr Football - and the writer makes the above comment.... Well he clearly thought better of it because he has since edited the comment.

Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

I honestly think a lot of people in Buckeye Nation are sleeping on young Mr. Booker. He is the linebacker that I myself am most excited about. I got to catch him once in person and his explosion and instincts stood out to me. The last LB to win Mr. Football and attend tOSU had quite a career here. While he will need to gain good weight the kid is ripped and looks absolutely huge, and is about as athletic as they come at the position. I know a few other Ohio HS coaches that feel Booker is one of the top football players not only in the mid-west but the Nation, and they were raving about him. Out of all the recruiting services  247 which is very good grades Booker out as a 99 and 5* and borderline top 10 recruit in the Country coming in at 13th. I fully expect in 4 years for Booker to have cemented himself into tOSU history. We have 4 great LBs coming in and McMillan seems to get the most publicity and rightfully so with him enrolling early, but when its all said and done there will be more Booker jerseys in the stands then any other recruit out of the Dream 14 class.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

sivaDavis's picture

Would have loved to see Dante be an early enrollee. Think he could have cracked the 2 deep if he did. Same for guys like Damon Webb, Noah Brown, etc. That early workout through the spring really prepares you and when you get in fall camp you're not behind at all.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

I think Webb will still crack the 2 deep and earn playing time without enrolling early. If he would have been able to enroll early he might have taken somebodys starting job.Still and outside shot he could unseat Armani but I would put money on it.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

sivaDavis's picture

Thing that sucks is I think his situation will be tough. I think he could unseat Armani but I don't see it happening until maybe like the third or fourth game of the year. And by that time, do you redshirt him or not? I don't think he would be a special teams player, he's quick but not fast and coming into fall he probably won't be in Buckeye shape just yet. That's why I thought him being an early enrollee could benefit him so much. Same with Noah Brown. He isn't talked about as much as some of the others but I think he could be really damn good. 6'2, really agile and has a big body, around 215-220. Built like a bigger Johnnie Dixon. His body is college ready but going through a Coach Mick spring and fall, I have no doubt that even with the depth at WR, he would get some PT.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

JDunc686's picture

I don't think Webb would come in and just jump Apple and Conley even if Armani did struggle.  CB can be really tough as a freshmen, Apple enrolled early last year and still got redshirted, Conley was also a highly ranked recruit and couldn't get playing time.

Jeremypreemo81's picture

Wow he gets into the backfield really fast.  Has a ton of speed for an LB.

+1 HS
whobdis's picture

I agree completely with Colerain..I find it suprising there has been so little talk of a native Ohio kid that's ranked so high. I guess it's natural to focus on the MLB (McMillan) but I also think Booker will be the best LB signed on LOI day. He's the closest thing we have to a Shazier anyway. I think (hope) that Ash simplifying the D will make it easier to get the best athletes on the field and this should help guys like Booker.

IGotAWoody's picture

His Dad played for Auburn in the early 2000s, and went undrafted in 2003? How young was that guy when he had Dante? My math says he would've been at Auburn in 98, at the earliest, and Dante would have to have been born around '96, right? 

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+1 HS
sivaDavis's picture

He was about 18-19 when he had Dante.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Right, which means maybe he served in the military before college, or just otherwise didn't enroll in college directly out of high school.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sivaDavis's picture

He was a JUCO transfer. That's about all I know.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks Vico.  I like all the linebackers we have and I hope they all get to shine.

Buckeye in Texas

Knarcisi's picture

His father played for Auburn in the early 2000s?

Damn, I'm getting old.