A huge part of landing commitments from players is making sure they can envision themselves on campus and experiencing the "day-to-day."
For class of 2018 Baltimore Gilman tight end/defensive end Thomas Booker, he got a glimpse of that, and then some, with the Cardinal.
From late June to early August, Booker was on campus for the Stanford High School Summer College program, taking classes and meeting fellow students from around the world. For Booker, it was a “true Stanford experience,” and after getting to As in his classes, his confidence is through the roof.
“That was a very big deal because I hadn't been away from home for that long time ago. The longest I have been away from home was probably about a week or two," Booker said. "So going into it, I was definitely a little bit nervous about how I was going to adjust…but I think once I got there, any kind of homesickness I had got washed away pretty quickly.
I felt super comfortable with the people there and I thought it was very good that I got that chance to perform at a high-level academically and just maintain a healthy lifestyle while I was on a college campus by myself and left to my own devices.”
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound athlete spends time on both sides of the ball. The four-star recruit said Stanford has talked to him about contributing as a defensive end. That fits one of the things he does very well on the field.
“I'm fast and physical and I'm smart. The two things I do the best is catching the football and scoring it and sacking the quarterback.”
When Booker wasn't in the classroom, he was able to make his way to Stanford football practices. Just like in the classroom, he learned something and is excited at the prospect of working with defensive line coach Diron Reynolds.
“There's a lot of teaching going on," Booker said. "There isn't a lot of screaming and yelling. I mean, of course there's going to be some of that because you're at a football practice, and what is it football practice without yelling? But it's a lot of constructive criticism that really can help the players get from point A to point B.”
Booker said his recruitment has been slow as of late because he committed his summer to academics, but September “things will get interesting.”
Booker has offers from Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Michigan and Pitt. In his next two years, he hopes to get bigger, stronger and faster.
“Physically I'm just trying to improve my speed and agility because however strong I may be, you can apply that strength if you can't actually get to somebody.”