Booker, considered the nation's top prep running back last year, will get that wish as long as Florida State tailbacks remain healthy this season. Booker talked with Coach Bobby Bowden about the prospects of redshirting this season due to the Seminoles' talent and depth at tailback.
Greg Jones, Nick Maddox and Willie Reid combined to run 33 times for 200 yards in the Seminoles' 38-31 season-opening victory over Iowa State last Saturday. Freshman tailback Leon Washington also played on special teams.
The Seminoles played five true freshmen against Iowa State, including Leon Washington – defensive lineman Broderick Bunkley, linebacker Sam McGrew, fullback Torrance Washington, defensive lineman Kamerion Wimbley -- all but eliminating those players' chances to redshirt this year unless they incur a serious injury early in the season.
"It's just something I really wanted to do and I feel like next year I will really be able to step up to help the team with this extra year under my belt," Booker said following Wednesday's practice. "Right now, Greg and Nick are doing great and Willie stepped in and showed he's also capable of carrying the load.
Bowden said he had installed certain plays for Booker and fellow freshman tailback Thomas Clayton but couldn't find an opportunity to get the first-year players in the game against the Cyclones. Leon Washington, meanwhile, is a vital member of the Seminoles' special teams and Bowden said that Clayton also wants to play this sesson.
"Clayton wants to play," Bowden said. "Those things can change overnight. If a guy goes three games and doesn't get in he might say, well, I would like to redshirt. Unless we have injuries, we can redshirt them. Leon (Washington) will play. He's on so many special teams."
Booker said he understands he will be called into action if there's an emergency.
"He (Bowden) said you can redshirt if you want to, but the fact that I am the fourth guy, if Willie or Nick or Greg go down, I am going to have to come out of my redshirt," Booker said. "Which, in a way, if it happens later on in the season it's really an inconvenience to me. But we are all here for the same goal, and you have to take that into consideration. As long as we get where we want, then it really doesn't matter."
Booker ran for 2,878 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior at ST. Bonaventure in Ventura, Calif. He also added 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 said his mind began to change to the point where he knew he would rather sit out if possible.
"I kind of wanted to do it before that ever happened (opener).," Booker said.
"If any of us feel like the coaches have lied to us or anything like that as far as us not playing, to me that seems selfish because I wouldn't put a guy that hasn't been proven or a guy that doesn't know the plays very well being when it's 38-31 or even 38-24, you just can't do that. After having the season we had last year – to many teams that would be a great season – but for Florida State's standards it's pretty bad.
"You don't want to risk losing your first game by putting a freshmen in. Going in, if the crowd is that loud and Chris is making all those checks, right now I wouldn't be able to respond to that because I don't know it very well. If I take this year off, I will be able to learn at my own pace instead of rushing it because I want to be ready for every week. It's just going to make me that much more prepared. My favorite player ever is Peter Warrick, and he redshirted. So, redshirting, to be honest, is really the best thing you can do, regardless whether if you can come in and start or not."