Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Transfer DT feels good vibes with Arkansas coaches
Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) gets past Maryland defensive lineman Anthony Booker (88) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
The University of Arkansas’ need for a run stuffer got a big boost when former Maryland defensive tackle Anthony “Tank” Booker Jr. pledged to the Hogs on April 12.
Booker, 6-4, 335 pounds, picked the Hogs over Texas A&M, South Carolina, Ohio State, Purdue and Louisville. He officially visited the Aggies, Gamecocks and Arkansas while making unofficial visits to the other finalists.
Coach Sam Pittman, defensive coordinator Travis Williams and defensive line coach Deke Adams helped seal the deal for the Razorbacks.
“I trust everything they had said and just came with open arms and answered all the questions,” Booker said. “My parents and I visited those guys first. Sometimes you forget the first school especially when you have six visits, three officials. They made sure I remembered all they said and we had a lot of zoom calls. They really went out the way to get to know me and answer all the questions we had, so that’s really what led me down there.”
Booker entered the NCAA transfer portal March 7 after recording 25 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles as a senior last season. He recorded 9 tackles and 1 tackle for loss in 10 games in 2021.
He called his vibe with Adams “special.”
“He was one of the first ones to reach out to me,” Booker said. “I knew nothing of him. Never came across him during my high school career. We’ve been building a relationship that’s been pretty strong since I’ve been in the portal.”
While he wasn’t able to see the Hogs practice during his official visit, Adams’ communication about Arkansas’ scheme and his role made him feel at ease.
“He made sure I was comfortable from day one with what they’re doing upfront,” Booker said.
When former Cincinnati linebacker Jaheim Thomas committed to the Hogs on May 1, Razorback fans were thrilled, but so was Booker. The Cincinnati natives have known one another since childhood.
“We played little league baseball together,” Booker said. “We played basketball together, football. We met each around 5-6 years old.”
Booker had a low-key approach about his desire for Thomas to join him in Fayetteville.
“When he first mentioned he was going to take a visit, I didn’t want to get in his ear,” Booker said. “I wanted him to have his own process. Nobody was in my ear, so I was undercover wishing he would come.”
Booker, who committed to Maryland over Cincinnati, Kansas, Toledo and other schools in 2019 out of Winton Woods High School, was a consensus 3-star prospect.
With two Anthonys in his household, he acquired his nickname Tank as a kid because of being a Jr.
“I carry my dad’s name with great pride,” Booker said. “Most people try to represent their last name but being named after my pops, just means something different to me. Being named after him, him being my role model. He put in so much work for me to get to this stage I’m at right now. I owe him everything and then some more. I love my pop.”
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