breaking news

3 of 4 people who were shot and killed in Waffle House shooting ID’d

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

Former Michigan player Elysee Mbem-Bosse apologizes for tweets directed at Jim Harbaugh
Former Michigan player Elysee Mbem-Bosse apologizes for tweets directed at Jim Harbaugh

Former Michigan football player Elysee Mbem-Bosse issued an apology on Sunday for tweets from his account directed at head coach Jim Harbaugh last week. That’s the first public statement from Mbem-Bosse after tweets appeared on his account last week that appeared to contain threatening messages to Harbaugh. The coach...
LSU baseball blows 6-run lead, gets swept by South Carolina
LSU baseball blows 6-run lead, gets swept by South Carolina

LSU baseball might’ve found a third starter, but now it needs to find a bullpen. Despite jumping out to an early 6-0 lead, LSU lost to South Carolina 8-6 on Sunday, ending a weekend sweep for the Gamecocks. With the loss, LSU drops to 9-9 in SEC play and 24-17 overall. This series marks the first time LSU has been swept...
Baylor baseball sweeps archrival TCU
Baylor baseball sweeps archrival TCU

A sweep has to feel good for Baylor, but getting a sweep against your hated rival, TCU, has to feel even better. Baylor pounded TCU in the first game of the series, 6-0. The Bears scored four runs in the 4th inning to take a commanding 5-0 lead after a 1-0 start. The second game held a little more drama, but not too much as the Bears won...
Former Texas baseball player Brandon Belt sets MLB record with 21-pitch at-bat
Former Texas baseball player Brandon Belt sets MLB record with 21-pitch at-bat

Brandon Belt officially holds the record from the longest at-bat in Major League Baseball history. The San Francisco Giants first baseman and former Texas Longhorn found himself in a 21-pitch at-bat vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Jaime Barria on Sunday. Belt fouled off 16 pitches during the 1st inning plate appearance before...
Remainder of Penn State recruiting class arrives this summer, completes roster reload
Remainder of Penn State recruiting class arrives this summer, completes roster reload

Penn State’s spring game festivities Saturday in Beaver Stadium featured a blend of the program’s past, present and future contributors. Current Nittany Lions players competed in the Blue-White Game, while those on moving on — and moving in — also received attention. Saquon Barkley and a slew...
More Stories