This spring, the Buckeyes rotated their linebackers quite a bit looking to find their best three.
With starting middle linebacker Tuf Borland out, however, the situation was pretty fluid. Also missing was fifth-year senior Dante Booker, who was recovering from shoulder surgery.
While much of the attention has been placed on the linebackers who have yet to start a game, Booker remained in the background this spring recovering from injury. Despite the lack of attention, Booker has no intention of giving up a starting job that he has won two different times.
And he could be as healthy as he has been in years.
“Dante will be back from his injury sometime late in the summer and we’re excited about him coming back and being a big part of our defense,” Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis said this spring.
With players like Baron Browning, Malik Harrison, Keandre Jones, and Pete Werner getting all of the reps and most of the attention, some people may be overlooking what Booker could contribute.
The Buckeye coaches, however, have done no such thing.
“There was a report a little while ago that was a false report, but right now, Dante Booker is 100 percent in our plans,” Davis said. “He had some bad shoulders and he got them fixed and it’s a great thing, it’s a positive. He’s got some time in the system, so the reps, although they hurt, he’ll be fine when we’re ready to go and we’re excited about Dante.”
As a junior in 2016, Booker won the job at Will, but was lost almost immediately to injury. Last season, he won the job at Sam, but again eventually succumbed to injury.
Now will be his third attempt at winning a job and staying healthy. He has missed reps in both the fall and spring, but being around for five years now, he’s not exactly unsure of his assignments.
At a position without much of a veteran presence, Dante Booker has plenty to offer the entire linebacker position.
And he will get his first crack at making that happen on the outside.
“Dante will be an outside ‘backer,” Davis said. “He’ll come in and we’ll get through his getting back in off of his injuries. He’s missed a lot of reps and he’ll come in and he’ll scrap it out for an outside ‘backer spot. Could be the Sam, could be the Will.”