[Premium article] Northwest Rankin HS senior middle linebacker Chris Booker (6-foot-4, 220-pound, 4.65 forty) is one of the top linebackers in the state of Mississippi this year. A Clarion-Ledger Top 40 Recruit selection this year, Chris has several schools recruiting him.

Chris, who is an excellent student and plans on majoring in engineering, played hurt in his first five games this season. "I injured my leg the very first game of the season," said Chris. "I injured my fibula." Primarily because of the injury, Chris registered just 35 tackles in his first few games this season. With his leg healthy again, he has recorded 38 tackles in the last three games.

Colleges have taken notice of his improved play. "Southern Miss has come to see me play," Chris mentioned. Mississippi State is another team that has also attended one of Chris' games and has shown interest in him. "Southern (Miss), State, and Bucknell have called me," said Chris. "Both Southern and MSU are probably calling me about the same right now. Ole Miss has slacked off some but I am going to attend one of their games."

With his recruiting seemingly having picked up recently, the rumors have started popping up. The latest is he has privately committed to Mississippi State. I asked Chris about that rumor. Obviously he had also heard the rumor because he chuckled then said, "I have had about forty people ask me about that." Chris didn't know how the rumor got started and told me that he is not committed to anyone at this time.

With Chris being recruited by Mississippi State, a team that is having a poor season, I asked him how a team having a bad year effects his thoughts about that team. "I think how could I, with my ability, help rebuild the program," said Chris. "People realize that Mississippi State is having a down year. They are not always going to be a team that is 1-5 their first six games of the season. It is just one of those Murphy's Law type years; if it can go wrong, it will. Their year has not affected how I think about them."

Chris knows a little about hard luck teams. Northwest Rankin HS, with a 2-5 record this season, has been a hard-luck team as well. Most of their losses have been by seven points or less. "It has been one of those years for us," said Chris.

Although Northwest Rankin has been hit with some hard luck this season, they are not without some excellent talent. While Chris is the most well known of the seniors on his team, several other seniors are attracting interest from colleges. Kicker Bryan Walker (6-foot-0, 150-pound), offensive lineman Matt Yeatman (6-foot-3, 320-pound) and fullback Lacedrick Spann (5-foot-10, 210-pound) have received interest from Southern Miss and Mississippi State as well as a few other schools.

Northwest Rankin plays Forest Hill HS this Friday night. If you live in the Brandon area, check out Chris and his teammates. Who knows, you might be watching future Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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