An Early Look: Devontae Booker, Utah

Carrying the rock for the Utah Utes for the second season is an intriguing running back by the name of Devontae Booker. Standing 5’11” and 212 lbs, Booker is a Redshirt Senior, heading into his second year of being a starting back for the Utes. Booker is coming off an impressive season last year; here are his stats from 2014:
  • 1,512 rushing yards off of 292 rushing attempts
  • 2 yards per carry average
  • 10 rushing touchdowns
  • 43 receptions for 306 receiving yards
  • 2 receiving touchdowns
Here are the games I scouted for Devontae Booker: Washington State (2014), vs. Oregon State (2014), and vs. UCLA (2014) Note: The GIFs are of plays that caught my eye Strengths: He was a three star recruit out of American River College (JC). Booker has the perfect body type for an NFL running back. He has great size and the perfect build to play professionally. He doesn’t have a great deal of mileage on him since he only has played one full season. Booker can make quick cuts to make defenders tackling air. He has unbelievable balance and is extremely hard take down by trying to take his legs away. Has crazy strength and explosion, will blow through a simple arm tackle. He can easily gain extra yardage by simply lowering his shoulder and taking defenders with him. He is an excellent inside the tackle runner; can move piles to gain a few yards on a third and short situation or find a small hole to burst off a big gain. When running outside, he is hard to stop when allowed to cut the corner. Booker is a very instinctive runner; he seems to naturally find the holes in the defense and knows where to run. He has great vision and finds seemingly small holes and is able to make something out of them. When in the open field, he has nice long strides to separate from defenders and makes him hard to catch. He does not have fumble issues at all and is a very reliable runner. He usually tries to help his QB out when running pass routes, sees his man in trouble, and tries to get open. Weaknesses: He needs a better spin move; it is rather slow and could be sped up some. On occasion, he can go to upright when running up the middle. That is not a big problem. He just needs to work on consistency. He takes some time to get up to speed, so his initial quickness is a little lacking. Due to not being able to get up to speed, his outside run game struggles some. Often, he gets slowed up in the backfield and is unable to get positive yardage. He doesn’t run very many pass routes and mainly catches passes in the flat or on screen plays. His pass blocking is absolutely hideous. Half of the time, he gives a half effort it seems. Often, he gets destroyed and pass rushers can make him look stupid. The Bottom Line: Devontae Booker is one of the top running backs heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. His power and explosiveness will make him a great asset to any team. One thing does concern me about his gameplay; he didn’t face the toughest of defenses last season. He faced Stanford last season and struggled against their top ten rushing defense. The majority of the defenses he ran against were ranked 40th or worse defending the run. Plus, he was not the starting back through the first three games of the season. This year, he will be the main workhorse and will get to face teams like Michigan, Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona. All of those teams have a chance to have some outstanding defensive play this year. If Booker can prove himself with another 1,000+ yard rushing season, and can continue to prove he is a reliable pass catcher, there is no doubt in my mind that he should be the “filet mignon” of the 2016 running back class. Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

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