Last season, opposing offense – namely Oklahoma – found out just how athletic Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker is.
The thing is, Baker wouldn't even have been in the starting lineup had all gone as planned for the Buckeyes. It was Dante Booker who started the season opener against Bowling Green, but he suffered a knee injury that kept him out the rest of the season. With Booker sidelined, Baker took over and never looked back.
Booker is healthy once again, but going into spring practice many thought he would be the man to slide into the middle and replace Raekwon McMillan. While Booker hadn't had much of a chance to show off his abilities on the field, it seemed like he might have the best body type of the three starting linebackers to play inside while guys like Chris Worley and Baker were thought to be more natural on the outside.
If linebackers coach Bill Davis is to believed, the idea that Booker doesn't have explosiveness or athleticism on par with Baker is complete bogus, which sheds some light on why Booker stayed outside while Worley took over in the middle this spring.
"Just because he is long doesn't mean he is not explosive and quick," Davis said of Booker. "He may be our fastest linebacker. He may be our quickest to be honest with you. Dante has got explosion in his body, and that is what you need in space. Tell me a receiver that is going to block Dante out there on a bubble screen. It takes a whole game up."
Davis explained that Booker could essentially spell double trouble for opposing offenses this season. Not only is he long – he's listed at 6-3, 240 – but he has the speed to make plays in a variety of ways.
Couple Baker with Booker and the Buckeyes could have one of the most athletic linebacking corps in the nation this season.
If you enjoyed this story, you will love Buckeye Sports Bulletin, the newspaper “For The Buckeye Fan Who Needs To Know More” since 1981. For four free trial issues of Buckeye Sports Bulletin with no obligation, click here.