By Ryan Rogers
One position on the field that has gotten a lot of attention going into the 2000 football season is the Tiger secondary. Whether it be because the defensive backs struggled the past two seasons or because Nick Saban arrived at LSU with a reputation of being an excellent defensive backs coach, the players in the secondary have been under a microscope throughout preseason workouts.
One player on the Tigers’ roster who is dealing with all the attention is senior cornerback Fred Booker. He has been a starter for the past two seasons and is a true leader on the squad. Booker received the Eric T. Andolsek award for leadership after spring drills.
“Our main goal is to play for 60 minutes. We just want to have a winning season,” said Booker.
Booker really has grasped Saban’s approach to coaching the secondary. He has been overwhelmed with Saban’s knowledge of the position.
“I think things have gone really well. Coach Saban has helped me out a lot. He knows so much about defensive backs,” said the Hammond native. “He can just look at you in you’re stance and tell you what you’re doing wrong. Right off the bat we knew he was good and he’s worked with us so much. It really helps you to be comfortable with your mechanics.”
Many have spoken of Saban’s reputation for having well disciplined, fundamentally sound secondaries.
“When I was at Wisconsin we used to watch film of Michigan State’s secondary and old film of the Houston Oilers’ secondary which were both coached by Nick Saban. They were very well coached,” said LSU defensive coordinator Phil Elmassian.
Booker has racked up 84 tackles and two interceptions in his career thus far at LSU. He has excellent speed and great awareness of the game. Booker is also a big hitter from the cornerback position. He will punish receivers and occasional running backs whom cross his path.
The Hammond High School graduate is very confident in his peers in the secondary.
“I think we can be one of the best groups LSU has ever had. We have a lot of talent back here. I think we just need to work on the little things that will make us better,” said Booker.
LSU has a lot of depth in the defensive backfield. Ryan Clark, a preseason All-SEC selection will play free safety. Clark, much like Booker, is also a vocal leader on the team. Tiger fans should see great things out of the Booker-Clark duo this fall. Having two leaders in the secondary is a big positive for the team.
Booker has high expectations for his team this year. While not thrilled about LSU not being picked very highly in a number of preseason polls, he admits he likes the underdog role.
“I’m really excited about this year. We were picked last in the preseason polls. It’s always fun to be picked last and come out first,” he said with a laugh and a smile.
Booker is a very pivotal fixture on the team. He communicates well with his teammates both on and off the field. Whether it’s calling out signals or expressing his feelings on matters involving the team, Booker is a straight shooter and his teammates rally around him.