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October 10, 2001

When the Going Gets Tough...

What does it take to gain the status of “Tough Guy”? Staying in the ring with Mike Tyson for 10 rounds? Hitting 73 homeruns in a year? Biting nails?

How about playing half a football season on a broken leg? Chris Booker (6-4, 220-lbs., 4.68) from Northwest Rankin High has done just that and has thrived under the pressure. “I have not missed a snap,” he commented.

”The first game of the year I broke my fibula,” Booker stated. “Well, I fractured it. I’ve been able to play if I can endure the pain. So that has kind of cut me on my stats. It’s pretty painful, but it is getting better now.

”They were punting and were a man short on one side so one of the up backs kind of stepped up to have enough men on the line of scrimmage and I checked off and sent a lot of people. The up back just killed our defensive tackle, and he slammed into the right side of my leg. Then I ran over my guy and my shin was on top of his helmet, and so helmet to helmet with my leg between them.”

Chris appears to be back in form, however with his performance last week. “I went out there and I felt real good and real comfortable and was able to get to full speed running,” Chris said. “I had a really good game. I’ll just see what happens from here and let the coaches decide what they want.”

“People are like, ‘You are still playing?’” he said. “It only takes ten per cent of your weight so it is not like it is going to fracture in half, but there are a lot of nerves there.

”All it is is pain. The only thing that could hurt me is if I got another hard hit on it, but with that air brace, that is wasn’t going to happen.”

“They put a brace on it and said, ‘Take some Advil,’ Chris said with a dubious laugh. “It set me back for about 5 weeks.” He appears to be back, though.”

”Last week it wasn’t really hurting, and I had my best game,” Chris commented on his leg. He pitched in 14 tackles against Clinton. “It was the first game I have really been able to plant on it and run.”

”I’ve been trying to play,” Booker commented on his weeks as an injured defender. “If it wasn’t that I enjoyed it so much and they (the medical superiors) said I couldn’t hurt it anymore. They just said they didn’t know if I could take the pain because it really hurt just to step on it.”

”I have just really been trying to focus on my game. My tackles are about 25% off of last year’s tackles and that has really effected the recruiting, but most of the coaches from the three schools have been keeping an eye on me and say when you have two or three good games give me a call.

As a junior Booker totaled 106 tackles, with 14 for loss, and 1 sack. He also started some as a sophomore, playing DE, MLB, and OLB.

If that story isn’t intriguing to you, the hits just keep coming. Booker is the starting linebacker, but also contributes in other areas.

He also is the backup kicker and has had to pitch in...due to an injury? “The last game our kickoff guy got hurt and I had to kick off. I kicked one in the end zone and one to the one.” Talk about versatile and devoted.

Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, and Ole Miss are the schools that currently lead for “The Iron Man”. MSU is recruiting the hardest, but he is currently awaiting offers. Coaches Davis from MSU and MacIntyre have been the two guys hottest on his trail. “With my leg I haven’t been able to run full speed, so they said just send me some film when your leg is better.”

On his top schools Booker commented:

MSU - ”I am leaning a little more toward State because of the engineering. I am going into Electrical Engineering and they have a better engineering program than the other schools. I like the football program. I was very impressed with their recruiting, their recruiting office, and very impressed with the way they treat their recruits.

Louisiana Tech - “They have a good engineering program and it’s one of those places that if I want to get out of state, although I am not looking to get out of state right now. One of the coaches came and saw me play in my jamboree game and I just started talking to them.”

Ole Miss - “They are a good school and have a good football program. I grew up an hour and a half from there, and I have enjoyed watching them play. Also their engineering program is growing. I like their defensive coach.”

Booker has taken unofficial visits to the Memphis - Mississippi State and the Southern Miss - Oklahoma State games. He went to Ole Miss the week the games were canceled, but had to settle on saying “Hey” to the coaches. He will be at the MSU - Troy State game this upcoming weekend.

”I am going to college for school,” Chris said in a wrap up of his decision making process. “I am going for the education. Football is just a great little thing to have with it.” With a 24 ACT score and a 3.6 GPA he looks to be in good shape to follow his academic dreams.

Don’t be surprised to see Chris wear out the competition in the remaining weeks, “I will be pretty convinced about my season for the rest of the year because I am feeling pretty good,” he said. After playing on a broken leg for most of the season would you want to face a healthy MLB running full force at you?

Me neither.



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