"Oh gosh, I think excited is an understatement," Bookman said. "This is something that I've really set my sights on and been working hard for ever since I talked to [Northwestern Running Backs Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Matt] MacPherson about it."
MacPherson invited Bookman to attend the camp late last month, and he intimated that it was a chance for Bookman to earn a scholarship offer from the Wildcats.
According to Bookman, Northwestern is only planning on signing one safety for its 2013 recruiting class and Friday's camp may be his chance to wrest that opening off the board.
"[Coach MacPherson and I] talked a lot about how he's definitely planning on taking one safety," the Canal Winchester High School (Canal Winchester, Ohio) said. "And I think most guys would shy away from that, but that got me excited – that just gives me all the more opportunity to show them I'm the one safety they're going to want to take. Honestly, I just need to go out and play the way I'm capable of playing."
In particular, Bookman will need to show fluidity in coverage and smooth backpedaling, the soon-to-be senior said, which are things he has been working on for a couple hours each day.
Bookman, who transferred to Canal Winchester from Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, has filled a variety of defensive roles in his high school career, ranging from outside linebacker to safety to cornerback, depending on the situation. However, Bookman said all the schools expressing interest in him project him as a safety at the collegiate level.
That list of schools includes Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Duke, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio University, Purdue, Temple, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Youngstown State.
While only Youngstown State has offered Bookman so far, the safety prospect is planning to attend Cincinnati's one-day camp on June 15th, as well as a Purdue camp on June 19. He also will be working out at Northern Illinois this Saturday, the day after his Northwestern camp.
Bookman knows, though, that Northwestern would be firmly in the discussion if it were to extend him an offer.
"They would definitely be at the top of my list," Bookman said when asked about a possible NU offer. "Of course, I'd have a lot of praying to do about that, and I'd have to talk to my family a lot about that, but Northwestern's one of those schools that it's hard to turn down. With the academic aspect, the beautiful campus and, ultimately, I'd be playing for one of the best coaching staffs in the country – they'd be a hard one to turn down."
In addition to the school's academic reputation and its lakeside campus, Bookman noted two items helping to sway him toward the purple-and-white, including the face of the football program.
"Coach Fitz is one of the best linebackers to ever play in the Big Ten, so that's definitely got some appeal for me," Bookman said. "That one practice I visited, the one thing I took from it was that it was a very live, electric feeling going around. Coach Fitz was out there jumping around and yelling at guys – you can see everybody on the team is pumped up and excited to be there."
Beyond Coach Fitz, there's an even more personal tie to the Wildcat program factoring into Bookman's affinity for the school: the presence of longtime friend Jaylen Prater, an outside linebacker who committed to Northwestern in August 2011.
"Jaylen and I, we grew up together," Bookman said. "We went to a lot of national underclassmen combines together – he actually got me started with all the camps. But we have talked about it, and he and I think it would be awesome. And our families have agreed that it would be pretty awesome to see both of us out there, on the field at the same time together."
That is, if Bookman can impress on the field this Friday. Stay tuned.