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Arizona State pulls Booker's scholarship

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2001

Donny Booker's asthma problem has been well-documented.

When the senior running back ran the football up the middle or chased down a player to make a tackle over his standout career at Valley High School, he very frequently got winded and had to reach for his inhaler.

Booker was reaching for his inhaler after hanging up his telephone last Wednesday.

Booker felt like he had just run up and down a football field 10 times when Arizona State called him to tell him his scholarship had been taken away.

Booker confirmed rumors Monday that the school had indeed pulled the rug out from under him just weeks before he was set to sign a binding letter-of-intent.

'I couldn't believe it,' Booker said. 'The new head coach called me and said they were going to a one-back offense and that they would not be using a fullback that much. They said they did not see me playing any other positions.

'I kind of knew something was up when they hadn't talked to me in a long time.'

Booker said it was new Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter who contacted him. The call came two days before Booker's scheduled trip to the campus, and almost three weeks before the official signing period.

Booker verbally committed to Arizona State during his junior season, almost a full year before the university revamped its entire coaching staff.

Bruce Snyder, who coached nine seasons at ASU, was fired as head coach in November.

Apparently, Booker was in Snyder's plans but not in Koetter's.

'I hope maybe I can go somewhere that will be playing Arizona State in next year's Fiesta Bowl,' Booker said. 'That way I can show them what they're missing.'

Booker's late father, Dennis, attended Arizona State before playing in the NFL. Donny Booker was sold on Arizona State when he found out the dry air would help his asthma.

Booker said he did not entertain offers from other schools because he didn't think he had to, instead, remaining loyal to the Sun Devils.

Now, the question remains, where does he go from here?

With it being so late in the recruiting session, not many Division I scholarships remain.

Booker said he wants to try and get recognition from Syracuse and West Virginia Universities. He visited Syracuse this week and expects to hear back from the school soon.

Booker plans to visit West Virginia this weekend, he said. He also said he may have to get used to playing defense, something he isn't all that used to.

'That will be strange,' he said. 'I may have to get used to playing linebacker.'

If Booker's plan B doesn't work out, he said he will weigh the remaining options.

'I might try for a lower division,' he said. 'I'm going to play football, it's just a question of where.'

A spokesperson from the Arizona State football office would not comment on the situation over the telephone Monday night, and a message left for Koetter was not returned.

The spokesperson said it was against NCAA rules to discuss the status of unsigned recruits.

Booker currently plays basketball for the Vikings, and said he may run track and field to stay in shape over the spring.







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