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January 12, 2006

Booker returning for his senior season

After losing both Antonio Cromartie and Ernie Sims to the NFL, Florida State finally got some good news Thursday morning. Junior running back Lorenzo Booker, who entertained the idea of declaring for the NFL draft, told reporters that he will return for his senior season.

With Booker coming back, the Seminole offense will have another experienced playmaker on the field after losing Willie Reid and Leon Washington to graduation. More importantly, the California native will be one of only two or three senior starters on the offensive side of the football next season.

His return is not only a big boost for the Seminole offense, it should also allow the speedy tailback to earn his college degree by December.

"I am only 20 something hours away from graduating and more importantly I just didn't feel like I was through and once you leave that is it," Booker said. "So I felt that if I wasn't really done that would be something I would have to live with forever, that I really didn't take that last year to get that National Championship ring which is what I really came here for."

Like a lot of junior players, Booker requested information on his possible draft status from the NFL draft advisory committee. He liked what he got back but it wasn't enough for him to give up his senior season and pass on some unfinished goals.

"I just wasn't really ready to leave to tell you the truth," he said. "I sent my form in and they told me third (round) or second (round) if I test good. They told me if everything had just stayed the same I probably would have fallen into the 3rd (round) but I think I am a pretty good tester which made me still believe I could fall in the 2nd (round) but that is not good enough for me, my goals are a lot higher than that."

Unlike Sims and Cromartie, Booker wasn't concerned about injury or cashing in while he could. Instead he was worried about being effectively phased out of the offense. This past season, with FSU going to a spread offensive system and with a struggling line, there was a dramatic reduction in how often the 'Noles ran the football. As a result, the former prep All-American wondered how often he would be used next season and took his concerns to FSU head coach Bobby Bowden earlier this week.

"I had planned to talk to him about it before he approached me about it," Booker said. "I am pretty sure he sensed it. We spoke about it again yesterday and he just really wants me to prove that I can be consistent as far as carrying the ball 15 or 16 times and being productive. My sophomore year I was able to do that."

Over the past two seasons, Booker has rushed for 1,439 yards and added another 489 yards in receiving for a total of 10 touchdowns.

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