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Multimedia:John David Booty
Matt Ryan interviews John David Booty on the upcoming season


Story:Reclaiming the Past

Story:Murder, or Self Defense?


All in the Family

      There he was as a 12-year-old, taking five-step drops at Louisiana State University practices where his brother Abram played. Imagining he was a Dan Marino or a Brett Favre, a young Booty couldn’t resist participating in the drills.

      Although football wasn’t always Booty’s first love -- was a talented pitcher on his high school’s baseball team -- he couldn’t escape his football pedigree.  His brother, Josh, was a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and played at LSU for two seasons (1999-2000) following a five-year (1994-98) baseball career as an infielder for the Florida Marlins. His other brother, Abram, was a wide receiver at LSU (1997-1999) and Valdosta State (2001).And his father, Johnny, played quarterback at Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State.

      In high school, Booty’s father was his quarterbacks coach and had already mentored two national players of the year in Booty’s brother, Josh, and former Miami Hurricane Brock Berlin. Under his father’s tutelage, Booty grew and developed into one of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks. As a junior quarterback in 2002 at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La., he led his team to the Class 5A state title while throwing for 4,144 yards and 38 touchdowns and earning All-American and Class 5A All-State honors.

      Booty was set to be one of the top prep players his senior year, maybe even a national player of the year. But that would all change with a string of events that began with his father’s firing after 13 seasons at Evangel Christian.

      This isn’t something that sat well with Booty, the team’s starting quarterback. Booty stood up for his father and made the decision to graduate in three years by taking summer school and then applied for early college admission – the first-known blue-chip prep player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll in fall 2003 at a Division I power.

      “My dad was the most influential person in my life,” he said. “I felt like I had to stick behind my dad and do what was right, regardless if it even hurt me or whatever. I felt it was the right thing for me to do for my family and my relationship with my dad – to stand behind him at that time.”

In Los Angeles
Booty was a small fish in a large pond and faced a number of adjustments: meeting new people, navigating the traffic and sensibilities of Southern California, and dealing with academics.

      Leaving behind his friends and his family and making his way to California was tough. Hewas a Southern boy from a small town suddenly thrust into big city life. In the South, football is an enormous deal, the cultures of entire communities resolve around it, and Booty played a starring role. In Los Angeles, Booty was a small fish in a large pond and faced a number of adjustments: meeting new people, navigating the traffic and sensibilities of Southern California, and dealing with academics at a university serious about its place among the academically elite.

      The balancing act was difficult. Juggling school and athletics at USC is no easy task, especially coming from the South, where academics, Booty said, is secondary to athletics. Up at 5. Workouts from 6-8. Classes from 9-2. There are sessions with one or two tutors, homework, then team practices and hours spent studying game film. The strain even touched his pocketbook Booty said his monthly stipend of about $950 a month barely covered the rent, even with a full scholarship.

      There’s only one regret in his decision to leave high school early. “I wish I could have had a senior year,” he said,  “because everyone says it is one of the best times in your life.... I had a great group of guys I grew up with and there were about 20 of us that had been going to school since first grade together. That is the only thing I regret… But I am so glad I am at where I am now and if I were to go back now I would do the same thing.”

      And the reasons are simple: USC’s storied football program, the university’s major-market location, the professional coaching staff headed by Pete Carroll and, of course, the possibility to compete for playing time right away, all of which was too good to pass up.


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