Chris Booker hoped to continue playing football professionally after appeal denied for another year at Ohio State

Although Chris Booker won’t have the opportunity to play another season at Ohio State, he hopes his football career isn’t over yet.

The former wide receiver and special teams ace was hoping to play one more season with the Buckeyes in 2022, and Ryan Day and Brian Hartline told him he would be placed on a scholarship if he received an additional year of eligibility. But after already using the extra year of eligibility that all players received from the NCAA last year, Booker’s request for an extra year of eligibility was denied.

Booker, however, thinks he has what it takes to keep playing football professionally, and he’ll be looking to prove it at Ohio State’s pro day on Wednesday, where he’ll practice for NFL scouts and showcase their skills.

“I know in my heart that I’m good enough,” Booker said. Eleven Warriors Last week. “And I also know that I have things waiting for me if football doesn’t work out. But I know football is what I want to do right now.

Just a few years ago, the idea of ​​Booker going on a scholarship to Ohio State or participating in an NFL pro day would have seemed far-fetched. When Booker transferred to Ohio State in 2017 after a redshirt year at Dayton, he never expected to continue playing football. But after joining the club’s Ohio State football team in 2018 and becoming an NCFA All-American, Booker was given the opportunity to play for the college Buckeyes.

At the end of his career at Ohio State, Booker became one of the best special teams players at Ohio State, playing the third most special teams snaps of all. Buckeye last season. He earned Special Teams Player of the Game honors after forcing a fumble in kickoff coverage in Ohio State’s 2021 win over Purdue, and he capped his career in the game. Ohio State making the game-tying tackle in Utah’s last kickoff comeback in the Rose Bowl – even though he almost didn’t even end up playing in that game after contracting COVID -19.

“I hadn’t practiced for 10 days, 10-11 days, and basically spent a day there,” Booker said of the Rose Bowl. “I was so tired after that game. I’ve never been so tired in my life. But it made sense. It made a lot of sense. To just sit down and then be able to play and have that impact, yeah, I think that sums up my career.

With a loaded depth chart ahead of him at wide receiver, Booker never got a chance to play much on offense for the Buckeyes. He caught just two passes for 27 yards in his career at Ohio State, both last season. But the 6-foot-3, 193-pound special teams game showcased his athleticism, and the pro day will give him the opportunity to showcase his ability to catch the ball and run courses.

Booker thinks the film he has shows his speed, quick change of direction and tenacity, while he also thinks his football spirit can be an asset to an NFL team. He spent time training as a cornerback at Ohio State in addition to playing wide receivers and special teams, and he says he was able to do so because of his aptitude for the sport.

“I know the game very well. I study it, I study it in my spare time, I study different wide receivers in the league, I study cornerbacks to find out what they want to do against wide receivers, then I study wide receivers to find out what they want to do against cornerbacks to help me understand the process of what they’re thinking about, what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to get there,” Booker said. “And I think that’s very important. You have to be able to think the game as much as you have to be able to play it.

Chris Booker said his favorite memory from his career at Ohio State forced that fumble during kickoff coverage against Purdue.

Booker practiced for Wednesday’s pro day at Ohio State alongside two other NFL draft prospects, Antwuan Jackson and Demario McCall, as he caught passes from the former Ohio quarterback State Cardale Jones, who will pitch to Booker on Wednesday’s pro day. Booker says he and McCall pushed each other throughout practices as they competed to beat each other’s practice times, and he says training with Jones has been a great resource with the Jones’ past experience in the NFL.

“He’s been in the league so he knows, he knows the divisions and the way we deal with routes and timing and everything. So it’s good to pick your brain and listen to it when it lets us know how we’re going on a certain route and the timing and what it wants it to look like,” Booker said. “So I think we have a really good spirit in Cardale, and his balls, he’s a really good catchable ball and I feel really good about how we’re going to play next Wednesday, especially with him throwing.”

Considering he wasn’t even playing college football when he first arrived at Ohio State, Booker knows he’s lucky to have the chance to audition for NFL scouts on Wednesday. . And while he hasn’t been able to catch many passes as Buckeye, he’s grateful for the role he’s been given at OSU.

“I try not to think about it too much, because I know it’s one in a million,” Booker said. “Few guys manage to be in my place. And I’m really grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had. Even just the opportunity to play in the team, it was a blessing, and then obviously now, an incredible opportunity ahead. So yeah, I feel really lucky, I feel really blessed. And I’m just glad I can still play the game I fell in love with when I was young, and I hope I can play it for as long as possible.

“I know in my heart that I’m good enough.”– Chris Booker on his goal of playing in the NFL

Whenever Booker’s football career comes to an end, he plans to pursue a career as a sports psychologist. Having already earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ohio State, Booker intends to earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology with a vision of working as a psychologist for a sports team.

Booker said he and his mother had overcome mental health issues in the past, and through those experiences he learned he wanted to help young people who might be going through similar situations.

“I realized that I really love helping people feel their best and look their best,” Booker said. “There is nothing wrong with asking for help. And at times, I needed help. And I know other people need help too. So I wanted to be able to provide that, and I feel like my story itself, going from being in the club team, then not playing football, then doing something in my career shows that you can do anything, really, that you set your mind to.

If it’s up to Booker, his career in psychology will come after a career in the NFL. And while it may be out of his control whether he’ll actually get a chance to play in the league, he’s trying to stay focused on what he can control – which starts with doing his best on Wednesday. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. .

“If it has to happen, it will happen. And if it doesn’t happen, then it won’t happen,” Booker said. “I really don’t try to press and worry about ‘Man, I gotta go crazy, I gotta be perfect on pro day.’ No, I’m really just trying to go out there and be myself, be the best player I can be at the moment, and then end up doing well enough to show it to everyone. other scouts and all the people out there and proving that I’m good enough to do it.

“So I want to be ready when I get there, but I don’t want to be anxious and I don’t want to be in a rush to do something and end up messing it up. I just want to be me, I just want to go out there and do some my best at that time.

The Ohio State pro day is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, and Eleven Warriors will be inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to provide full coverage of the day’s events.

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