The evaluation period is in full swing, and new prospects are entering onto the recruiting radar seemingly every day with college coaches out and about. One recruit who just saw his stock skyrocket in the span of a couple hours was Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) sophomore Thomas Booker, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound tight end/defensive end. Booker landed his very first offer from Michigan April 29, and soon thereafter added a second from hometown Maryland.
“Michigan came in first, and I was very excited about that one. My previous coach [Biff Poggi] now has a position at Michigan, so I heard about the offer from him,” Booker said. “I was very honored, blessed and surprised to get my first offer from a school like Michigan. It’s fantastic academics and athletics there, and a terrific program.”
Booker has never been to Ann Arbor, Mich., before, but he plans to check out the school sometime this summer.
“I’m excited to get up there and learn more about the program,” said Booker, who mentioned the Wolverines offered him as a tight end. “I always watch the Big Ten on TV, because it’s one of my favorite conferences, so I’ve seen Michigan play. But I’m still learning about the school and what it’s about.”
As for Maryland, Booker expressed similar sentiments. He said he heard about the local look from UMD defensive line coach Mike London April 29.
“I was extremely excited about Maryland too. I always look at Maryland, because it’s in my backyard and I know a lot of people going there,” Booker said. “I love the basketball and football programs there, and it’s a great school from an athletic and academic standpoint. To get a Maryland offer just two hours after Michigan, it was exciting for me.”
Booker spoke to London for about 10 minutes, the recruit talking up the coach’s personality and demeanor. The Gilman product said the two had “a really good” conversation.
“Coach London was very interested in me not only as a football player, but as a person,” Booker said. “He’s a very personable person and he cares about you. I thought that was a really good thing, how interested he was in me personally.”
Booker has only briefly forayed through College Park, Md., before, calling the campus “beautiful.” However, he’s never toured the school or attended a game at Maryland.
“I’m going to pop down there very soon to meet the coaches and see the school up close,” Booker said. “I like that Maryland is close to home and close to my support network. It’s always a plus to have your family close by.”
So far, the only programs Booker has seen are Penn State last month and Princeton. He’s unsure where he’ll be going next other than Michigan and Maryland.
“Academics are big for me, absolutely. And another big thing is going to be alumni connections – that’s something I’ll be looking into when I take visits,” Booker said. “Just the experiences you can gain at a school and what you can learn from alumni connections, that’s very important. Also, how a school fits me personally and student life are two more aspects I’ll be looking at.”
Booker is coming off a sophomore campaign where he recorded 12 catches and three touchdowns. He had seven sacks on defense.
Booker said while Michigan offered him at tight end, the Terps aren’t specifying his position yet.
“Honestly, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play anywhere to help the team and contribute,” Booker said. “I love tight end and catching passes, but I love getting after the quarterback and playing defense too. I honestly love both.”
Booker noted that he intends to stay at Gilman, despite the departure of his coach and numerous teammates.
“I’m absolutely sticking with Gilman,” Booker said. “I didn’t come to Gilman to play football. I came for the educational experience. Losing Coach Poggi and some of my teammates is hard, but I can’t miss the opportunities I have here athletically and academically.”