Saturday was a good day for local football products with initials D.B., stars who have excelled at every level with the real challenges looming.
Shifty and strong Utah running back Devontae Booker of Grant High School and American River College roots was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft, going to the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
In the sixth round, Tampa Bay picked powerful Oklahoma linebacker Devante Bond, he of Foothill and Sierra College origins.
The news resonated throughout their hometowns as coaches and families celebrated. It’s difficult enough to land a scholarship, as studies show about 2 percent of high school athletes land a Division I football ride. The percentage is a great deal smaller to get drafted, and even smaller to play more than two NFL seasons.
Booker may emerge as a big-value find.
At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, he was projected to go in the second or third round, and he sweated through a four-hour draft marathon on Friday at a local pizzeria, surrounded by family and friends. A draft call didn’t come, but Booker’s spirits remained intact, and he was ecstatic to get the call Saturday.
Booker was one of just two backs in Utah history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, but his senior campaign was cut short with three games to play because of a torn meniscus. That injury likely prevented him from getting picked on Friday.
2 Players in Utah history, including Devontae Booker, to produce back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons
Booker said his knee is “90 percent. I’m fine. I’ll be ready to go.”
Booker will join a crowded backfield that includes C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Anderson, a Bay Area native and Cal product, reached out to Booker.
Tweeted Anderson on Saturday, “Just got off the phone with @dbook23 and he said he is excited to work with us. I told him push me and I will push him. He said all love.”
Bond, explosive and physical, is deemed a bit undersize at 6-1 and 235 pounds, but he has a penchant for making plays. In NFL jargon, that’s called a motor.
Early NFL evaluation reports peg Bond as a potential long-term replacement for Daryl Smith, the Bucs’ starter at strongside linebacker.
While Booker started playing tackle football as an 8-year-old in Del Paso Heights and starred throughout high school, Bond found football relatively late.
He first played in pads as a senior at Foothill, learning by the day, and he flourished at Sierra, becoming a national recruit.
Booker and Bond earned their college degrees, listing it as the achievement of a lifetime.