Chris Booker, a senior walk- on for the Ohio State Buckeyes, made his first tackle as a varsity player this past weekend against Nebraska after falling out of love with the game just a few years prior.
The St. Louis native started his collegiate career at the University of Dayton as a redshirt freshman in 2016. After one year of being a Flyer, he made the decision that football just wasn’t for him anymore since beginning the game at seven years old.
“Football has always been the love of my life,” said Booker, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver. “At the end of my freshman year, I was kind of feeling like ‘This isn’t it for me’ and that I should just move on with my life.”
He later applied to Ohio State with no plans to play football but, after an entire year went by, he felt himself missing the game while playing flag football with some buddies. Booker went on to join Ohio State’s club football program for the 2018 season.
In just four games, Booker caught 14 passes for 371 yards with seven touchdowns for that Buckeye club group. He also played defensive back and returned kicks/punts, which led him to be named a first-team All-American by the National Club Football Association.
“Playing at the club level was so much fun,” Booker spoke with excitement. “The difference in club is you only practice 2 or 3 days per week. It felt like high school ball… to go out there and play with my brothers. It made me fall in love with the game again.”
As Booker started regaining his passion for football, his club coach (James Grega) reached out to Ohio State assistant director of player personnel Justin Perez with Booker’s film. The coaches reached out to Booker shortly after with a meeting and an opportunity to walk on.
The former product of John Burroughs High School, where he was teammates with legendary running back Ezekiel Elliott, officially joined the Buckeyes in the summer of 2019.
In the recent season-opener vs. Nebraska, Booker saw regular time on kickoff coverage and return units after playing no snaps last fall. Then, this past Sunday, the senior was admirably named Ohio State’s Special Teams Player of the Week.
“I work,” Booker started to explain when asked how he landed a spot on coverage units. “You can always control your hard work and effort, so that’s what I did. I’m blessed to get this opportunity… it means so much to me. Just to get the opportunity to play football again. The coaches took a chance on me and I really appreciate it.”