Football Celebration

Lorenzo Booker could have easily remained home in California during Florida State's first summer session. In fact, Saturday was his 19th birthday, and what better way to spend the day than with family and friends? "It would have been good to stay home but, I mean, we are trying to do something (here)," Booker said.

Lorenzo Booker relishes family and friends. Returning home to California recently was a good thing. After a quick visit, however, returning to Florida State was even better.

That's why one could find Booker training with teammates last week on FSU's practice fields as the Seminoles opened summer workouts. Not even his 19th birthday Saturday was enough to keep him back on the West Coast.

"It would have been good to stay home but, I mean, we are trying to do something (here)," Booker said.

"We had two bad years compared to our standards. I can only control what I do. I can do my best to influence my teammates. But I wanted to get here and do my job. When they (teammates) want me to be there, I have to be there for them. They have to be able to count on me. Like everybody else, I am just here trying to put in the extra work."

Booker is expected to compete for playing time this season after taking a redshirt last year. He says he's completely healed after suffering a severe left ankle sprain in spring drills. The 188-pound Booker returned in excellent shape and appeared to run effortlessly last week.

"I wanted to get back here to train because I knew I really wouldn't get in the shape I wanted to before I got back into the heat," Booker said. "I am just trying to get my quicks (quickness) back. It (ankle) is not bothering me at all. I can cut on it (without pain)."

Booker is excited about the Seminoles' approach this summer. By all accounts, FSU's first week of workouts was a positive first step.

"I am most impressed with the attitude," Booker said.

"I can definitely tell that everyone has their mind on the goal this year, and that wasn't the case last year. Everyone is stepping up and putting in the extra work so I am definitely excited about this year."

And FSU coaches are definitely excited about Booker's potential. With good reason.

Booker ran for 2,878 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior at St. Bonaventure in Ventura, Calif., two years ago. He also had 16 receptions for 300 yards and three scores. Booker added 3,103 yards and 49 touchdowns as a junior.

He selected FSU over Notre Dame, USC and Washington during a live ESPN telecast on national signing day. While Booker had indicated he had hoped to play as a freshman at FSU, he welcomed a redshirt season due to the Seminoles' depth at tailback.

"I was just trying to adjust," Booker said.

"I wouldn't say so much it was the distance (from home), just the mental aspect of the game. Having to know everything. I am just so much more comfortable now. Like I told you last year, I saw Chris (Rix) check off in the Iowa State game and I knew if I was in there, I would have ruined the whole thing.

"Now he can check off and do want he wants and obviously I am a lot more prepared and excited. Football is all I think about and I've been waiting a year (to play). I can't wait for these two (workout) months."

With starter Greg Jones continuing to rehab from knee surgery, Booker will get ample chances to compete this fall. Fellow tailback Leon Washington also returns after a stellar freshman season.

"He's making people miss," FSU running backs coach Billy Sexton said of Booker during spring drills. "Making long runs. Catches the ball. Smart. Tough. He's a player. We just need to keep grooming him."

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