Cornerback Karl Booker has become a fixture in the Kentucky secondary. However, the reason he came to Kentucky was because he dreamed of being a walk-on player for the basketball team.
"I was not recruited by West Virginia or Marshall, so I decided I was going out of state to play," said Booker, a two-year all-state performer in both football and basketball in West Virginia. "I always liked UK basketball. I was going to come here and try to play basketball."
He wrote Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith several letters asking for a chance to try out for the basketball team. "But it was too late because the team was already working out. Since I was used to always playing sorts, so when school started I walked on the football team. Things worked out, so I just stayed. I was actually better in football than basketball and had the confidence I could play and help the team. I'm just glad everything worked out for me."
Still, going from a potential walk-on basketball player to walk-on football player to starting scholarship player is an impressive feat. "Truthfully, I never thought that much about not being able to do this. I always had confidence I could compete. God gave me the ability to play. I thank him every day for the chance to compete, but I always believed I could compete."
The story gets even better. Booker got on the field his redshirt freshman season — as a receiver. "We lost some players to injuries. The coaches saw me in practice play special teams and scout teams and saw I had the ability to get on the field, so they gave me a chance," Booker said.
Don't forget that Booker had to prove himself a second time when coach Guy Morriss and his staff left and Rich Brooks and his new coaches arrived. But that just made his journey even better.
But why wasn't Booker, a player who plays consistently well, offered a scholarship out of high school, especially since he was a two-time all-state player?
"It was probably my size. I can't even remember how big I was when I got here. I used to get a lot of jokes about my size. I was probably 165, maybe, at the most when I got here," Booker said. "I used to lie about my weight. Now I am 190 and a lot more solid. I spent hours in the weight room, growing up and maturing. In high school , I was not in the weight room. I was one of those guys who just let his athletic ability get him by. Then in college, I learned I had to get in the weight room or I would get shoved around a lot. But everything worked out great."
Booker came to UK intending to play hoops
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