BALTIMORE, Md. -- In an MIAA A-Conference matchup, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) hosted St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) Oct. 7. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout Gilman 2018 tight end Thomas Booker, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder with early offers from Maryland, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Duke and Boston College.
Our take on his game is below, while an interview can be seen above:
Booker is a hulking specimen with the athleticism and physicality to develop into an all-around tight end or H-back at the next level. If he continues to shore up a few fundamental areas during the next year, Booker has a chance to contribute early during his career and become a solid intermediate target at the next level.
Physically, Booker has a well-built, muscular frame with little to no bad weight. He has a stout base; broad shoulders; long arms; and big, strong hands.
Booker mainly operates in-line for Gilman, showing the ability to catch and block. As a receiver, he has the power and strength to defeat the initial jam and get into his pattern. He ably navigates traffic and has a knack for finding openings in the defense.
Booker does his best work in the short to intermediate range, settling into holes and providing an outlet for his quarterback. He’s a big target with a wide catch radius, showing the ability to pull in anything thrown in his general vicinity.
Furthermore, Booker has soft, natural hands, while he high-points jump balls and catches most passes away from his body. Typically, if Booker gets his glove-sized mitts on the ball, he’s going to bring it in. And when defenders challenge Booker, he knows how to use his wide frame to shield them from the ball.
He’s not afraid of contact either, Booker showing the necessary toughness to catch passes in traffic and hold on after absorbing a hit. In fact, Booker’s so powerful he can bounce off smaller defenders and continue pushing forward. He’s a load to bring down in the open field, Booker’s strong base and superior balance allowing him to break through arm tackles.
Also, Booker possesses solid athleticism for a prospect his size. He’s able to contort his body to make the difficult grab and leap overtop defenders on over-the-middle passes.
Moreover, Booker is a willing blocker who can pick up extra blitzers in pass pro and open holes in the running game. He’s potent at the point of attack and keeps his feet driving after contact. Booker comes off the ball low and hard, showing the ability to push his man straight off the ball, sometimes finishing at the second level.
To improve, Booker mainly has to hone his route running. His footwork could stand to be more precise and his breaks could be crisper and tighter. Sometimes, for example, when Booker is changing direction, he looks a bit methodical.
Moreover, he’s not asked to run complicated patterns at Gilman, so he’ll have to work on varying his route tree.
Furthermore, Booker has to develop a quicker get-off. It takes him a second to release off the line and get into his pattern, so we’d like to see more suddenness. He also needs more burst in and out of his cuts.
Speaking of speed and quickness, Booker isn’t the type of tight end who’s going to stretch the field like a pseudo-receiver. He can get down the seam and run defenders over in the open field, but don’t expect him to hit the home run or routinely slip behind the secondary.
Next, Booker has to become a bit looser and more flexible. He’s a natural athlete and moves well, but there’s a bit of hip stiffness that limits him in the open field. (In other words, he’s not going to make defenders miss).
Finally, Booker has to work on blocking technique, especially in pass protection. He has to make sure he keeps his hands inside the pads, gets his arms extended and stays on his blocks.