Linebacker Booker eager to contribute for Buckeyes

Redshirt junior back after missing last season with injury


One question caused Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Dante Booker to pause Thursday during a post-practice interview at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“If you had stayed healthy last year, what would you have done?” a reporter asked.

“I really don’t know how to answer that,” said Booker, a redshirt junior from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. “I feel like I could have contributed the best I could.”

RELATED: Ohio State linemen talk about CTE concerns

Booker will never know what would have happened in 2016 if he hadn’t sprained his knee in the season opener against Bowling Green. He was healthy by the end of the season but didn’t play again and earned a medical redshirt. He said it was an easy call not to play.

“I was probably full speed,” Booker said, “but I really didn’t have my confidence.”

Jerome Baker, then a sophomore, took Booker’s starting job last fall. Now the two will start together alongside senior Chris Worley.

PRACTICE UPDATE: Urban Meyer press conference highlights

The Buckeyes held their 12th of 28 preseason practices Thursday, three weeks before the season opener Aug. 31 at Indiana. Booker will enter that game with a sense of deja vu. He feels like a new starter even though he began last season as a new starter.

“It’s going to be like it was last year,” Booker said. “It’s going to be exciting. I’m going to be probably a little more juiced up having missed a year.”

Booker spent a lot of time with another injured player, defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle, with the trainers last season. They bonded over their shared feeling of being robbed of playing time by bad luck. Sprinkle also suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener.

“We’re hungry to get out there and show people what we can do and contribute to this tradition,” Sprinkle said. “We feel we haven’t done much yet. It’s time to contribute.”

OFFENSIVE LINE: Unit should have more depth

The starting linebacker the Buckeyes lost to the NFL, Raekwon McMillan, has already earned a starting job with the Miami Dolphins. Two 2015 starters, Joshua Perry and Darron Lee, are also in the NFL.

Booker has that potential. He’s 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, which makes him the biggest linebacker on the roster. Baker is 6-1 and 225 pounds. The 6-2 Worley weighs 230. None of the backups weigh more than 234.

“It’s exciting to watch Dante run around out there,” linebackers coach Bill Davis said. “He’s fast. He’s explosive. We’ve got him in a good spot. He’s having a good camp so far. He is so driven. He is full throttle and wants it as bad as anyone I’ve been around.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

UD provides inside look at arena renovation
UD provides inside look at arena renovation

The University of Dayton shared a video updating the progress of phase two of the three-year, $72 million UD Arena renovation on Friday. The video shows the seats in the 300 and 400 levels have been removed. They will be replaced by padded seats with cupholders. UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt walked fans through the changes going on inside and outside...
McCoy: Bailey’s return crowds Reds’ rotation -- for now
McCoy: Bailey’s return crowds Reds’ rotation -- for now

A long, lanky Texan wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots walked into the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Sunday morning, a long suit bag draped over his right shoulder. “Hey, H.B., did I leave you enough parking space?” Scooter Gennett yelled as Homer Bailey settled into his dressing cubicle. Bailey drives a large pick-up truck, Texas-style, and...
Riggleman confirms Reds will use six-man starting rotation
Riggleman confirms Reds will use six-man starting rotation

The Cincinnati Reds will use a six-man starting pitching rotation at least until the trade deadline July 31, though interim manager Jim Riggleman hopes the Reds hang onto Matt Harvey, the player most likely to be dealt. “I’ve got no indication that he’s going to be traded,” Riggleman said Sunday. Harvey (5-5, 4.63 ERA) makes...
Broken driver hasn’t slowed Green in Springfield City Am
Broken driver hasn’t slowed Green in Springfield City Am

Avery Green prepared for the Springfield City Am by hitting range balls at Young’s Jersey Dairy with some buddies. But the practice session ended abruptly when one of them borrowed Green’s driver, took a swing and snapped the graphite shaft in two. That club wasn’t as valuable as a Fabergé Egg to Green, but close. And with...
Another rain delay, another Reds loss to the Pirates
Another rain delay, another Reds loss to the Pirates

Corey Dickerson hit two first-pitch home runs, rookie Nick Kingham overcame another Cincinnati rain delay to pitch six shutout innings and drive in two runs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Reds 6-2 Saturday for their season-high eighth straight win. Dickerson homered on the first pitches he saw from Anthony DeSclafani (4-3) in the third and fifth...
More Stories