To many, the commitment from Winston Woods (OH) outside linebacker Bam Booker came to a surprise for Maryland fans, but to the younger brother of freshman defensive lineman Anthony Booker, his decision has been a long time coming.
“I think I knew maybe a month and a half after my brother committed,” Booker told All Terrapins a day after announcing his verbal to Maryland. “I wanted to give a special birthday gift to my brother and I thought what’s a better way than to commit?”
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker became the second JACK linebacker in the Terps’ 2021 class, alongside St. Frances (MD) Terrance Butler, as Booker enjoyed the different glimpse into the program. The rising senior is no stranger to College Park as the family made their way into College Park when Anthony was recruited by new head coach Mike Locksley and the trips for his brother were enough for Bam to know where he would play in college.
“They were always at the top of the list. I just wanted to be sure who I was saying no to. I mostly got all the information when he was there, but I’ve been up there at least 20 times so I know so much about everything up there, it’s crazy.” Booker embraced the different perspective into the program as he did his own research into the program. “I get to see it almost from a players standpoint versus someone just trying to recruit me and see certain things. I get to see this is what actually happens, what actually happens, this and that.” The biggest takeaway about the program was easy for the younger Booker to point out.
“They’re very strong about the idea that if you have a strong faith and strong support group, everything is about family. Family is very important and I’m big on family as well so hearing that, especially from the head coach, drew me in.” Booker ended Wednesday night with a call to Locskley to give him the news, but before he got the call, wide receiver coach Joker Phillips heard the news first as the two have enjoyed a strong relationship throughout the recruiting process.
“I called coach Joker first then I ended up calling coach Locks. They were excited, very excited about me coming in. I’ve known coach Joker for a while now so I’ve mainly been talking to him. I’ve known him since his last coaching job at Cincinnati, where I’m from. Him going to Maryland was like I knew a familiar face here, as well. It was just really cool. Everything always felt natural; straight up, honest, put everything out there so I never had to guess anything. It never felt forced.”
The culmination of relationships and belief in Locksley’s vision in the program ultimately led in Booker’s decision to become commitment 18 for Maryland’s 2021 class.
“I love the direction of the program is going in. The program is just building and the support from the people in the area and the love that everybody is showing towards the athletics is crazy and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The physical linebacker joins the defense as a JACK linebacker, the perfect position in the 3-4 scheme for Booker to do what he does best. “I love getting to the quarterback. It’s like my favorite thing to do, so at the JACK, I get to do what I love doing and get to the quarterback. I get to do what I’m best at.”