Devontae Booker returns to Grant to indicate dreams arrive true

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 5:47 AM

Deashon, two years elderly with curly blond hair and a wide grin, engaged in a tug of war of sorts with . The battle ensued Tuesday morning in an finish zone at the Grant High School football stadium, which was bristling with anticipation.

Devontae Booker returns to Grant to indicate dreams arrive true

The toddler wanted a piece of the action.

Deashon, two years elderly with curly blond hair and a wide grin, engaged in a tug of war of sorts with . The battle ensued Tuesday morning in an finish zone at the Grant High School football stadium, which was bristling with anticipation.

The tiny lad wanted to wear his dad’s slick playing gloves, tugging at the glossy-red hand gear, refusing to get number for an answer. The elder Booker finally relented, settling for another pair in a nearby bag. He slipped them on, then engaged in the real action.

Booker’s audience on the Del Paso Heights campus was immense. The shifty and powerful running back from UT by way of Grant and American River College worked out in front of more than twenty-five NFL scouts, coaches and personnel executives. Each had his NFL team symbol on his shirt or windbreaker with notepads to chart every drill and running and jot down notes after speaking with Booker.

NFL scouts and coaches are accustomed to a college facility for a draft prospect’s “pro day” workout, but they flocked to Grant,, where Booker became a football star. The NFL representatives wanted to upgrade their data on a player expected to go in the top three rounds of the NFL draft, which starts April 28.

Booker held his pro day while recovering from a left knee meniscus tear suffered in November. The injury sidelined him for his final three college games and ended his running for the Heisman Trophy. He'd a follow-up procedure in February.

Booker looked sharp in his workout. He seemingly broke more of a sweat wrestling with his son than in his otherwise ordinary session. He ran pass routes – brief and long – to showcase his footwork and skill to slice and stop and start. The knee appears quite sound.

Booker intrigues NFL teams because of his 5-foot-eleven, 220-pound frame, football IQ and versatility, balance and explosive running style. For months, NFL teams have examined game film from Utah, where Booker rushed for 1.512 yards and ten touchdowns as a Jr and 1.261 yards and 11 scores last fall.

“This is all 11th-hour stuff, to look how he moves, to check up on the guy after the knee,” said Dave Razzano, a senior scout for the Indianapolis Colts based in Roseville. “That’s why so many people are here. Sometimes it seems love overkill, all of this. But he’s the latest large guy to check before the draft.”

Booker chose Grant for his workout because of what the school and the region imply to him. Several hundred people attended the workout, and it was a reflection of the Grant community: students, adults of all ages, races and backgrounds. They cheered Booker’s every move.

“This is home,” Booker said. “My parents live a obstruct from here. My message to the kids watching is that you can do better in this community than violence. You can do better than drugs. Hopefully, I give them hope and I keep a smile on their faces.”

“This is his consolation zone, so why not work out here?” said Booker’s agent, Jeremy Newberry, a former Cal, 49ers and Raiders lineman who presently works for the sports and entertainment management company Octagon. “I think it’s great.”

Booker brought smiles to the NFL representatives in attendance, including Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who'd Booker running specific routes. And Booker continues to please those who helped shaped his career.

“It hasn’t been an simple path for Booker to obtain here with some (academic roadblocks early), but here he is,” Grant football coach Mike Alberghini said. “Devontae stayed his senior season at UT to graduate, so that’s a testament to who he is. He’s such a grand person, a really excellent human being. This is his neighborhood, his school, what he’s all about.”

Booker made sure to embrace one woman in specific before his workout: Kim Davie, a Grant vice principal who remains a mother figure to him.

“All of these kids at Grant are our kids, but some are so special, they become your baby, and Devontae is my baby,” Davie said. “He’s hung in there. He persevered through those academic test scores when we’ve seen too many kids give up and quit. If I could bottle up his pride, I’d be rich. He's that special something in him.”

Booker said he's plenty of motivation. He's his son and his longtime girlfriend, Fate Matthews, for starters. He vows to give back to Grant. He'll relocate for NFL employment, but Booker said nobody can delete Del Paso Heights from him. He shares the sentiment of other Grant alums who have reached the NFL, including Shaq Thompson a first-round draft choose by the Carolina Panthers latest year and a starting linebacker in Super Bowl 50.

“Pride. It’s how I’ve been my whole life,” Booker said. “I’ve seen horrible stuff happen in this neighborhood. It made me gravitate and go a different way, and that’s what I’ve always done. There’s a lot of excellent here, too.”

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