Booker plans to make transfer count

After conferring with his parents and Auburn coaches during and immediately following Spring Break, Calvin Booker, a Mays (Atlanta) High School product, decided to petition for a transfer to hometown Georgia Tech.

When Calvin Booker returned home to Atlanta from Auburn in March for Spring Break, the thoughts of uncertaintly were already swirling rapidly in his head. For nearly two years he had watched Tigers starting quarterback Brandon Cox distance himself from the rest of the Auburn quarterback pack following the graduation of former standout signal-caller Jason Campbell, and Booker felt the clock ticking on his eligibility faster than a blitzing linebacker.

So, after conferring with his parents and Auburn coaches during and immediately following Spring Break, Booker, a Mays (Atlanta) High School product, decided to petition for a transfer to hometown Georgia Tech. Booker saw not only a chance to become the player he's always known he could be at Tech, he saw a chance to come home.

"You really couldn't beat the situation," said Booker, a 6-foot-3, 230-lb. pocket specimen who will have two years of eligibility remaining following a mandatory year on the sidelines per NCAA rules in 2006. "I'll sit out a year and it will be after Reggie [Ball] has graduated. I know they have Taylor [Bennett], Kyle [Manley] and [Jonathan] Garner, but I'll have a chance to compete."

Another attractive factor, Booker said, was having the opportunity to be closer to his family and friends. Booker, who moved from the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area when he was in seventh grade, called current Tech hoops standout Jeremis Smith his "best friend" still to this day. He also maintains a close relationship with former prep teammate Sam Williams, a current member of Tech's defensive secondary.

And, of course, family is important.

"It's real nice to be back with my family," said Booker. "It'll give me a chance to communicate with my father more. Really, I'm just at home now."

Booker, who carried a 3.2 grade point average at Auburn on pace for a dual degree in finance and marketing, said he is also intrigued by the academic possibilities at Tech. He said he plans to focus on finance in the College of Management, with hopes of continuing his dual degree in marketing.

A talk with Tech offensive coordinator Patrick Nix was one of the determining factors in his decision to return to Atlanta, Booker said. Booker's only request was a promise to take place in open competition. Nix told him exactly what he wanted to hear.

"It was pretty simple," said Booker. "[Nix] said if I come in and work hard for year, when spring [2007] comes around I'll have a chance to compete. All I wanted was a guaranteed chance to compete."

And when the competition heats up the spring prior to the 2007 season, what can Tech fans and coaches expect to see from Booker in a refined Georgia Tech offense.

"They'll see that I'm a leader," said Booker, who attempted six passes during his redshirt-freshman year at Auburn in 2005. "I stay to myself and I'm calm, but I respect my coaches and teammates. I'm a heady-type player. I'm a passer - I do a lot of damage through the air. I throw the ball. That's what I do."

Though Booker said he has the ability to hurt opposing defenses with his legs, he said something he learned from Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges in two years was the importance of maintaining poise in the pocket and making correct reads. He said one of the first things Borges taught him was, in the college game, an athletic quarterback cannot freely scramble as often as he did in high school - and hope to lift himself off the turf time after time.

"At Auburn, I gained growth and maturity that will stay with me far beyond my years," said Booker, who was Scout.com's 33rd-rated national quarterback in the class of 2004. "I developed a feel for the pocket, and the importance of staying in profile. I don't want Georgia Tech to think they're getting a third-string quarterback. It was really a flip of the coin. It could've been [Black Field] or it could've been me [at second-string for Auburn]."

Booker pointed to Cox's one-and-a-half years in the program to learn under Borges and Campbell as an edge gained over him prior to his arrival on the Auburn campus in 2004. Booker recalls that magical 13-0 season - he was a true freshman at the time – and likens the situation at Tech now to what Auburn had then. He would like to be a part of something that special once again, particularly in his hometown.

"Georgia Tech has always had the talent," he said. "I truly believe they're capable of winning the ACC Championship. I've been on a 13-0 team, and I've seen what it takes. I see no difference between those guys [Auburn 2004] and what Tech has now."

Should his dreams become reality, Booker would lead the Yellow Jackets out onto the field for the season opener in 2007 as the starting quarterback, and a potential hometown hero. If that day comes, it would mark a crowning moment in his life. Booker said he intends to do everything in his power to ensure his college future holds a happy ending.

"It would mean a lot," he said. "Anywhere you go, you want to shine. I'll be ready. As a quarterback, you set the tempo for you and the team. I didn't transfer to sit [on the bench]. Georgia Tech is the place for me."


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