Jimmy Booth has been
attending East Carolina games as a fan for some time now. But in the
fall of 2009 Booth will trade in his ticket and seat for a standing-room
only zone at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The defensive lineman has
decided to become one of the players he’s watched wearing the purple and
gold over the years by making a verbal commitment to play for the
Pirates after graduating from Greenville’s Rose High School in the
spring of ’09.
Booth made the pledge on
July 2 after a recruiting tour in which he attended one-day camps at
North Carolina State, Duke, East Carolina and Duke in June. The Pirates
extended a scholarship offer just hours after watching the 6-foot-3,
280-pounder perform in camp.
“I’ve been wanting to go
to East Carolina for a while,’’ Booth said. “I’ve always lived in
Greenville and the school isn’t even 10 minutes from my house.
“But everyone around me
was telling me I needed to visit other colleges. So I went to N.C. State
and Duke for one-day camps. I worked out for them and checked out their
“After I got home I talked
to my parents and told them East Carolina was where I really wanted to
N.C. A&T had also offered,
and Duke and N.C. State both sent letters expressing their continued
interest in the days after the commitment, Booth said.
The decision guaranteed
the extension of a football career that began for Booth as a 7-year-old
when his father suggested he give the game a try.
“I was kind of a chubby
kid growing up,’’ Booth said. “My parents wanted me to do it to try to
get my weight down. So it was a way for me to exercise at first. But it
was something I grew to love.’’
Booth advanced through the
ranks of Pop Warner and middle school football before arriving at Rose.
As a ninth grader, he played for the junior varsity and earned a
late-season promotion to the varsity squad.
After a one-game stint
with the varsity to start his sophomore year, Booth returned to the
junior varsity to play out the regular season. He was then promoted
again to the varsity for the final few games.
Booth earned a starting
job at defensive tackle for the varsity last season and led the Rampants
with nine quarterback sacks.
“I’m sort of an interior
run stopper,’’ Booth said. “I’m one of those guys who can clog up the
middle. I can pass rush, too, every once in a while, but I’m mainly a
clog up the hole guy.’’
Booth believes the Pirates
plan to play him at defensive tackle, too.
“It depends on how my body
and my speed changes, but I’d probably say I’m going to play inside,’’
Although he won’t be
officially part of the ECU family until signing a national
letter-of-intent in February, Booth plans to watch as many Pirate games
as possible in person this year.
“Lately, I’ve become a big
C.J. Wilson fan,’’ Booth said of ECU’s junior defensive end. “I like
watching him even though he’s more of an outside guy. I remember seeing
him after one game. He’s so huge! But I enjoy watching him.
“I’m looking forward to
seeing them win a lot of games this year. That was a big part of my
decision. When you’re going somewhere for four years, you want to go
where there’s a possibility of winning. It wouldn’t be fun losing all
the time. They’re a proven winner, and the last two years they’ve gone
to bowl games.’’
Booth is the 10th player
to join ECU’s recruiting class, and he’s the second defensive tackle
prospect along with
Michael Brooks from Yanceyville,