Booker Enjoys Washington visit

Lorenzo Booker is a 5-11, 175-pound running back from St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, California, and Booker just returned from an official visit from the <b>University of Washington</b> and hardly was at a loss for words when it came time to talk about his weekend.

"It was excellent," Booker told Dawgman.com. "They pretty much showed me everything that I was looking for. It looks wide open up there and I would have a shot for some playing time as a freshman. They have just one good tailback coming back and I know I could do a lot of things in that offense, like catch passes out of the backfield, option, everything."

He continued. "I know they are going to get Nathan Rhodes and the lineman from Texas (Kyle Williams) and their best receivers are freshman. The players were probably the most impressive part of the trip. They are guys I could really see myself spending the next four years playing with. And a lot of the players there are from California. I could just go on and on about the trip. I just had a great time."

And the highlight? "I would have to say the highlight was when I was with my cousin (Curtis) and I went down the tunnel with Coach (Tony) Alford. It was at night and it was cold and just a little bit of mist. To me, that's football weather. We walked down, looking at all the posters of the bowl games on the walls and then we went out to the field and stood on the 'W'. I just looked around at the stands. It was just an incredible moment. I could really see myself playing there."

Lorenzo's comments about the Washington preparations for the upcoming Holiday Bowl echo those made by the other SoCal prepsters that have also witnessed USC and UCLA's practices. "I've seen them all and I don't know what it is but they just don't practice with the intensity I'm looking for," he said. "Washington practices with that intensity. So does Florida State. I eat, sleep and drink football, but I can separate things pretty well too. All I know is that when I'm on the football field, I want to be playing with players that have the same mindset that I do. I want to be be playing with competitors. I know those other guys like to win, but they just don't seem to have that attitude."

He had nothing but great things to say about running backs coach Tony Alford. "He's a great coach and I could definitely see myself playing for him," Lorenzo said. "Your position coach and the other guys at your position are the guys you spend 90 percent of your time with, and when I see a guy like Willie Hurst running between the tackles, running the option, catching passes...that's what I want to do. I want to do everything. All three schools I'm looking at - Washington, Florida State and USC are all teams that have one-back sets. But one thing I saw at Washington is that the team is like a family. They don't go their separate ways after practice. They've got each others' backs. I felt that."

Lorenzo was hosted by Reggie Williams, and also hung out with Derrick Johnson a lot. Booker appreciated their 'soft-sell' approach. "One thing I can't stand is salesmen," he said. "They really respected that, so the only time they would talk about the school or program was if I asked them a question. Since Derrick lives pretty close to me (Riverside), I asked him about homesickness and adjusting to it. He told me how he was rooming with Rich Alexis last year, and Rich is from Florida. He told me that some tears were shed, but that Rich really dealt with it well. I know it's something I could deal with too. I know that having my girlfriend (Lisa) up here would help a lot too, and I also have another friend who will enroll at whatever school I go to."

And Reggie? "Reggie was great. He told me that I could come in and play just like he did this year. And man! He got freshman All-American! Watching him got me motivated. If he can do it, I could do it too."

Lorenzo's girlfriend is definitely someone that will play a part in his decision, and he seemed to be very appreciative of the coaching staff's empathy with making her feel just as at home. "Lisa is good for me and if she came up here I think it would be good for her too," he said. "We checked out the different options, like going to Seattle Central if she couldn't get into Washington right away. And she wants to major in Spanish. To me, she wouldn't be coming with me to school just for me. It's very important that she accomplishes something for herself too. It was important to me that the coaching staffs of the schools I'm looking at take this issue seriously, and I felt great about that at Washington because they did. They really do emphasize the 'family' aspect up there."

Booker also had plenty of nice things to say about Rick Neuheisel. "The best thing I can say about Coach Neuheisel is that he's a players' coach," he said. "That's a big compliment. Most coaches just don't understand. They can talk to you and say they know, but it just doesn't seem like they do. And he's just a real genuine person. On most recruiting trips they have an agenda. At one point during the visit I was talking to Coach and he just said, 'Screw this. What do YOU want to do?' That was pretty refreshing. I haven't had a chance to really talk to Coach Carroll yet, but I can't imagine that he'll make a better impression on me than Coach Neuheisel did."

With all that being said, Lorenzo knows that if everything was equal, he would stay at home. "Of course I'd like to be close," he said. "It's been a dream to stay close and play in front of my friends and family. I want to be close to my family. That's important to me. My Mom wants me to go there. She'd never say it, but I know. I'm the youngest child in her family. What else would she say? And my friends all want me to stay. But the thing is, I've set very high goals for myself. If I stayed home and ended up settling for less...I just couldn't do it. I know that at some point, you have to step out of your comfort zone if that's what it takes to achieve your goals. And with my girlfriend with me, that will be a big help."

Booker is planning on taking an official trip to USC on January 18th to finish the process. He may try to move it up sooner, and admits that it's more for his Mother than himself. "There's nothing more they can tell me about the school," he said. "It's mostly for my Mother so that she knows what's happening."

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