The Ohio State Buckeyes are renowned on both sides of the ball. Look at a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who dipped back into the OSU well to select Mike Weber in the 2019 NFL Draft. Or look at the New Orleans Saints, who have Michael Thomas at wide receiver and Marshon Lattimore in the secondary.
While Dante Booker wasn’t drafted, he’s now one of the latest Buckeyes to find himself in the professional ranks, signing with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent. So, what do the Cards get in the fifth-year Buckeye? Here’s three reasons why to be excited about this signing.
The professional sports world is a cutthroat business. Guys get traded, or what we’ve seen in recent years, guys find ways to get out of their respective teams to go someplace else. If Dante Booker makes it on the Cardinals after summer workouts and the preseason roster cuts, don’t expect him to leave on his own accord.
After suffering a knee injury against Bowling Green to start the 2016 season, Booker saw his name slip down the depth chart. He could’ve gone somewhere else to play football, and probably even start on a weekly basis. But he didn’t. He decided to stay—and ultimately end his college career—with the Bucks. Doug Lesmerises wrote a nice article on Booker heading into last season’s Senior Day, showing all the struggles he went through after the injuries.
Stealing a line from Chris Collinsworth, here’s a guy who is going to stick by a team. Personally, if I were a general manager, I’d want someone like Booker on my team.
Though injuries were a constant in his OSU career, Booker played in 49 games for the Buckeyes. In his first two seasons on the team (2014 and 2015) he played in 11 and 13 games, respectively.
His knee injury in 2016 forced him out of the starting lineup, and completely shut him down after the third game of the season. However, the 2017 season was his most productive; he tallied a career-high 31 tackles and 5.0 tackles-for-loss.
3. Proximity to other Buckeyes that have been drafted
Being surrounded by future NFLers helps you become a better player—and Booker has been surrounded by quite a few Buckeyes that heard their name called at the Draft.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, linebackers Darron Lee and Joshua Perry were first and fourth round picks, respectively. In 2017, Raekwon McMillan heard his name called in the second round to the Miami Dolphins. And last year, the Dolphins called another Buckeye in Jerome Baker.
All those guys have played with Booker, so it’s not like he hasn’t had to compete with non-NFLers.
Any concerns about Baker?
The obvious is the injuries. A knee one year, concussion symptoms the next. That’s a bad combination to have as a undrafted rookie. The argument I’d make is that he’s gone through these injuries and ended up performing decently after being cleared.