Return To Glory
by Joey Papania
On Nov. 30, 1999, the LSU football program underwent a complete makeover beginning with the acquisition of head coach Nick Saban. A little more than a week later, the Tigers began assembling what may arguably be one of the best coaching staffs in the country.
But in order to lay the foundation for a successful football program, Saban and company will need the help of the Tiger’s veteran players. Players like senior wide receiver, Abram Booty.
Booty enters his fourth season at LSU ranked No. 8 in LSU history in career receiving yards with 1,554 and No. 7 in career receptions with 115. Should Booty duplicate the type of year he had as a sophomore in 1998, he could find himself as one of the top all time leaders in those respective categories with former Tiger greats Wendell Davis and Eric Martin.
But the Shreveport native isn’t concerned with breaking records. His top priority is to help his team win football games.
“It’s my senior year, and I have already gone through set goals,” Booty said. “This year I’m going to put my mind into just trying to have fun and doing what I know I can do. And that’s getting open and catching the football. But the important thing is to get everything back on track here as a team, and I’m going to do everything I can to help the guys do just that.”
Experienced players like Booty are essential not only on the field, but off the field as well. For the new players, the adjustment to the college game and a new atmosphere is trying enough. But the team must now accustom itself to a brand new coaching staff.
The freshmen reported to campus Friday, Aug. 4. Booty and the rest of the returning players joined the new class five days later. Now begins the task of implementing a new system that will be tested for the first time in less than a month.
“I think you just have to set your mind to buy into the new system that the coaches have brought in,” Booty said. “We are all real excited about it. We’ve worked hard. A lot of the guys stayed up for the summer, more than usual. I believe we’re ready to go. For me, it’s different having to start all over, but it is fun, too. I’m learning a new offense, there are high expectations again, at least from within the team, and we’re looking forward to it.”
“It’s been really tough,” Booty said. “But the things we have been doing are really appropriate to the game of football. We are doing sprints, speed work, and a little endurance. I believe that the team as a whole is looking pretty good.”
Booty played his high school ball at Evangel Academy. The three-time All-City and All-State selection was part of an offense that featured four and sometimes five wide receiver sets. Since his arrival at LSU, he has expressed interest in opening up the offense and spreading the field. Newly acquired offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach Jimbo Fisher may be doing just that.
“I think (coach Fisher) has opened it up tremendously, but I don’t think he’s even opened it up as much as he’d like to,” Booty explained. “In the spring we had to divide up the receivers, and we also had a couple of guys go down. So we didn’t really get into a whole lot of four or five wide sets. I’m excited about throwing it, but we are still going to have an effective running game. We have two or three really good young running backs. Hopefully we can just even it out and be really explosive.”
The Tigers will see just how far along they have come on Sept. 2. A new coaching staff and a newly-expanded Tiger Stadium have Tiger fans anxious about the future. But hard working, dedicated college football players like Abram Booty are what will bring a resurgence to the LSU football program.