Lorenzo Booker, 5-11, 180, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure, the #1-ranked player in the country (as per TheInsiders.com rankings) is still keeping an open mind about his recruiting, but says he has had a change of heart recently when it comes to a leader.
"UCLA is leading," Booker said. "But I haven't seen so many of the schools I'm interested in. I'm interested in about ten schools right now. So, it's not really fair, but with having really only seen UCLA and USC, UCLA is leading."
Among the schools he's considering other than UCLA and USC are Florida State, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Notre Dame, Michigan and Tennessee. He has arranged a couple of official visits, one to Florida State November 9th and one to Washington on December 14th. He also said that he's probably going to trip to Texas or Notre Dame, or both. "In my mind, all the out-of-state schools are in the competition for official visits. I'm thinking about all of those schools. But when I pick the schools I'm going to trip to, that will obviously narrow down my choices. With UCLA or USC and official visits, I don't know. They're so close, I could just go down there on an unofficial. I thinking about it, though, because I know an official visit is different. I really don't know about taking any officials to either UCLA or USC right now. But I'll probably have the list narrowed down to UCLA and USC and the other schools I'm going to visit by December."
Booker also added that he'll more than likely not make his decision until signing day in February.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Booker had indicated he wouldn't take any official visits to out-of-state schools that would require a long plane flight, but he's changed his mind on that. "I'm fine now," he said. "Now is probably the safest time. I was worried a little about the Anthrax thing, too. But I decided to not let it affect my life. I eventually have to fly, don't I? So, I'm not too worried about it anymore. You can't cheat death. When it's your time, it's your time."
Booker, who has run for approximately 1500 yards and scored 26 touchdowns in 8 games (while being taken out by the second quarter in most of St. Bonaventure's lop-sided wins), said the primary factor in his decision will be academics. "I love football, and every player's hope is to go to the next level. But so many things could happen, so first and foremost, I'm concerned with academics. You have to be prepared for a life other than one that involves football. I'll be looking for a school that does that." He said that he plans to major in communications, and will thoroughly check out every school's communications departments. "So far I've only talked to USC about communications and they're pretty strong. But I'll find out about that at all the other schools."
Booker said that probably the second-biggest consideration is team depth and how successful the program is: "The talent, the depth of the team is really important. The whole team, and especially the offensive line. I want to go to a place that is loaded with players, because I come from a very successful high school program and I'm used to winning. They have to be winners, and the talent and depth of the team will probably determine that. It has to be a pretty stable coaching situation. If they're winning, they're stable. And I don't even care about depth at running back. If I come in as a freshman and I'm the best running back there, I'll play. If not, and I have to redshirt, that's fine. If that's the case, I know that the team is really good. I just don't buy it when someone promises me to play early. They can't guarantee that. You never know until you get there. So, if it came to redshirting, I think that's the best thing you can do in any case. I mean, you want to get out there and play, but redshirting and learning the system and getting better while you don't lose a year of eligibility is pretty good."
Entertaining the idea of leaving California to go to school, though, could be an issue for Booker and his family. "I'd like to stay close to home," he said. "My family's here and I'm close to them and they'd be able to see me play. I would go away to school if I felt that an out-of-state school was really the clearly best thing for me – that it's going to best help me reach my goals. My mom wants me to stay close to home. But she knows how much I love football and she wants me to reach my goals." Booker also said that, even though he hasn't thought about it much, weather might be a consideration, too. "I'd probably get used to bad weather if I had to. I know it rains a lot in Washington and Oregon. I guess I'm pretty much a little spoiled by where I live and the weather, so I'd think about it."
Booker, who obviously is a pretty thoughtful kid, said that many factors have contributed to UCLA being his current leader. "Well, they're doing really well. They have a good, young offensive line. They've been recruiting well and that's good for the future. I know some of the guys that have already committed to them well. And their coaching situation is stable. There are a lot of things to it."
Booker is good academically, maintaining a 2.9 GPA and having scored 1000 on the SAT.