The biggest surprise from the first two days of summer workouts wasn't the large number of players in attendance, or the first ever round of indoor circuit training on Tuesday, but the mysterious disappearance of Lorenzo Booker. Being one of the most dedicated players on the team, it was obvious to everyone that something was preventing the former high school All-American from joining his teammates for voluntary workouts, and that's exactly what happened.
The sophomore tailback had a class project that was conflicting with the 5:00 p.m. workouts. Now that the project is behind him, Booker was one of the first ones on the practice field Wednesday afternoon. But this was hardly the first day he has worked out since spring practice. He has been working with Tutus Sports Academy the past couple months. In fact, other than being slowed by a minor hit-and-run accident a couple weeks ago, he's barely missed a day of doing something to improve his body.
The most noticeable change his is size. Booker is now up to 198 pounds while carrying only seven percent body fat. And he has put his new size to good use. Two weeks ago Booker told Warchant.com that he benched 225 pounds 25 times. That raised some eyebrows on the Tribal Council Message Board, and a few fans even doubted his statement. However, strength and conditioning coach Jon Jost confirmed that the elusive tailback did exactly what he said.
"It's so that some people don't even believe me," Booker said. "But I'm like 'I've been training with coach Jost for the last two years. What do you expect?' That's what we do, I lift. Those people on the (message) boards didn't believe I lifted 225 that many times."
Booker is quick to credit Coach Jost and his staff, and Florida State's dedication to the strength program, for his improved physique.
"Even at like USC and Notre Dame, all those schools, they don't do any of the stuff we do here - none of the Olympic stuff," Booker said. "Tell them if they want to lift they can come over here. You can just tell by the stuff we've got here. We lift for football - squat, power clean and all that stuff - we don't do that beach stuff."
Just as impressive as Booker's increased size and strength, is his improved speed. Although he was never considered slow, his 4.49 adjusted 40-yard dash time in 2002 wasn't exactly blazing for a 170-pound tailback. Normally when a player adds on nearly 30 pounds of muscle, you expect a slower 40-time. Not so with Booker.
"I lowered my 40 time - I ran a 4.3 flat on Saturday," Booker said. "My main thing was that since I put on so much weight, I'm pretty consistent at 198 right now, and I ran a 4.3 flat - that's faster than when I was 180. I'm happy because I'm bigger and I'm faster."
With his strength and speed figures, Booker has a good shot at finishing first in both the performance and strength index tests to be performed next month. That's something that has never been done since Jost instituted the testing program in 2001.
"Lorenzo has gotten faster, Lorenzo has gotten stronger," Jost said. "Last year, behind Greg (Jones), he was pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team. If I'm not mistaken he was right behind Michael Boulware in the performance tests. Unless somebody steps up that is a big surprise, more than likely not only will he be pound-for-pound the best athlete on the team, but pound-for-pound the strongest player on the team."
Even though the strength program at Florida State, and Titus Sports Academy, has assisted Booker in becoming one of the most physically gifted players in all of college football, it is Booker himself that is ultimately responsible.
"God did a great job with him but it doesn't stop there," Jost said. "There are a lot of guys that have great genetics. Lorenzo takes his great genetics and he trains very, very hard. He loves to work out. He trains very hard in the weight room, he trains very hard out here. It's not very often that you get somebody that has phenomenal genetics, has a phenomenal work ethic and phenomenal drive, but he does. I don't think it's a secret that he can be something very special."