John David Booty's journey into the NFL begins. As Vikings coach Brad Childress might say, he's not afraid of the bright lights.
But, despite leading his USC Trojans to two Rose Bowl Championships and suddenly becoming the talk of the Vikings' smallest draft class in franchise history, Booty is keeping his progression in perspective.
His first expectation?
"I think to make the team, that's the biggest thing," he said. "I finally made it here and I want to prove that I deserve to be on this football team – in the weight room, in the film room, everything, off the field. It all plays a big part in me making this football team."
One of the factors in the Vikings selecting him in the fifth round of last weekend's draft was his familiarity with the West Coast Offense. The Vikings and Trojans both run a version of that complicated offense, which should help him acclimated to the NFL.
"It's all new terminology still, but there are similar things that I can take from what I ran at USC and apply to here," Booty said. "But it is still a huge learning process going from college to the NFL, regardless if you are used to this system or not. It's a huge jump, but there are things that I can relate to that we run here that I did back in college."
Booty got quite a bit of experience at USC, with his 893 offensive plays at quarterback ranking eighth in school history and his 5,945 yards in total offense ranking sixth. The top-10 rankings go on – his 6,125 passing yards rank fifth, his 518 completions rank fifth, his 55 touchdown passes rank fourth and his .623 completion percentage rank third.
Fortunately for Booty, he won't be thrust into the spotlight immediately. The Vikings still plan to start Tarvaris Jackson and have Gus Frerotte as the veteran quarterback/mentor, and Booty seems to appreciate the step up from the college ranks to the NFL.
"You see so many young quarterbacks go in there and they'll go through their one and two progression and then take off running because they are not sure what three and four might be," he said. "For me, I want them to know that if I ever had to be called on that I could go out there and play the game the way it is supposed to be played."
The addition of Bernard Berrian in the receiving corps and the No. 1 rushing offense is a young quarterback's best friend, whether that quarterback is third-year pro Tarvaris Jackson or rookie Booty.
"We have great running backs here so if you can get in there and load the box up and have some play-action and you're able to open some things up and get some one-on-one matchups because everybody is down in the box playing the run, it can open up a lot of big things in the passing game," Booty said.
Booty briefly met Jackson at Winter Park on Thursday but has yet to talk with Gus Frerotte or Brooks Bollinger, the other two veterans. He is spending this weekend with fellow rookie Kyle Wright, an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami under contract, and Toby Korrodi, a quarterback from Northern State who is spending the weekend with the Vikings on a tryout basis.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said the team could keep four quarterbacks for training camp, but Booty is likely to end up competing with Bollinger and Wright for the third spot when it comes time for the Vikings to pare their roster to 53 players.
For now, despite his college accomplishments, he is concentrating on getting better at certain aspect of his game.
"I feel I can get better in the pocket; even out on the run I can throw better," he said. "There are all sorts of things that you always feel you can work on to get better and improve your game."
Booty's NFL Journey Begins
Viking Update Top Stories
VIDEO: Zimmer on final preps for EaglesMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer discusses some key players for Philadelphia, his defense and if Jake Long could play.
Viking Update12:02 PM
Vikings have 3 receivers on injury reportThe Minnesota Vikings could be getting Stefon Diggs back in the lineup, but he is among three receivers on their injury report.
Viking Update11:37 AM
Notebook: Walsh ‘past the bad things?’The Minnesota Vikings are preparing to play “quite possibly the best special teams unit across the board that we've faced so far this year.” Plus, the Vikings are doing much better…
Viking Update8:49 AM
Hard-core stats: Vikings at EaglesThe Minnesota Vikings will look to exploit some of the weaknesses the Eagles have shown lately, including one strength for the Vikings and one weakness. We go deep into where the…
Viking Update5:04 AM