Many dove directly when the pandemic-induced restrictions were lifted, meeting coaches, attending camps and touring facilities. Others, like Tyler Booker of Bradenton (Florida) IMG Academy, had a more focused and fulfilling approach: 12 flights in 21 days. “I’ve never been so tired in my life,” Booker said.
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive lineman, who had narrowed his list of 30 scholarship offers to five finalists, made official visits with each before the NCAA recruiting period resumed on June 28. Booker flew to Florida over the weekend. June 4 before returning to IMG for the Under Armor All-America Game Future 50 camp the following weekend.
The pace then picked up in no time.
Oregon would host him right after camp, and within 24 hours of returning home in New Haven, Connecticut, Booker would be on a flight to see Georgia. The quick turnaround was duplicated with a trip to the state of Ohio immediately after. An official visit to Alabama over the weekend of June 25 completed America’s most ambitious visit plan.” I did it! He said as the dead period was back online.
The rising rookie’s summer vision was to make the visits, reconnect with family and commit to college before returning to IMG ahead of the 2021 football season and the academic year.
After the trip to Oregon, the SI All-American candidate considered pushing the decision back to the fall in order to participate in college games early in the season. Ohio State and Oregon play Week 2 and Alabama plays host to Florida the following weekend.
Game day trips would have made sense, but because the family was able to reunite in New Haven, the original plan kicked in. Enough information was gathered as each member of Booker’s immediate family has carried out at least one of the visits. His parents went on every trip.
After the seemingly unprecedented travel route, it was Tashona Booker who helped her son make the biggest decision of his young life.“It was my mother,” Booker says. “She has a good knowledge of college football, like she can carry on a conversation… but hearing it from my mom was like, ‘Oh my God! If she sees it, it must be.
“Hearing it from mom is different. “
The original plan to commit in July was intentional, so Booker would return to IMG – where he reports on Monday – to help the Ascenders defend their national high school championship. The team finished 8-0 in 2020.The 2021 squad will feature many changes, common to the nationally recognized boarding school, including a new head coach at former NFL great Pepper Johnson and a host of new players. For the team’s tone giver and third-year leader, there will be a new position to hone before the first game on August 20.
Booker will switch from right tackle to left tackle this fall, replacing former SI99 prospect JC Latham, who now plays college football in Alabama.
The transition is nothing new for one of the top prospects in the US offensive line, who plans to enroll at his college destination in December.Booker began his high school career by doing approximately 90 minutes each way from New Haven to Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey. Always on the lookout for competition, he ended up starting college in his first year in 2018.
“I basically grew up with my mom on FaceTime,” he says. “Every time I came back, I weighed an inch heavier and 10 pounds heavier. “
Around the same time, Rutgers offered him his first scholarship offer and his recruiting and national profile took off. The buzz was coming on the other side of the football, as Booker played on the defensive inside on the tackle. He remained a “defensive guy” thanks to a move to IMG before fully committing to the offensive line in 2020.His recruitment intensified after the move, especially with the projectors raised.
“I always say I’m the best lineman in the country,” he said. “I am the best player in the country. It’s just mental conditioning, mental training. My mental game sets me apart from others.
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