At first glance, T.J. Booker may seem like your typical 12-year-old kid. He is obsessed with sports and spends his free time cheering on his favorite football teams: the LSU Tigers and New York Giants. He dreams of playing under the bright lights on Sundays and making play after play. Many young athletes his age have similar aspirations, so you’re probably wondering why T.J. is our new cover star. What makes him so special? Well, from his mindset on-field and off to the time and effort he has put into his skills, he is already miles ahead of his peers.
“Football has been a part of my life for as far back as I remember,” T.J. explained. “A lot of my family members played the game, including my dad. So that’s a big reason why I love the game so much and want to be playing it 24/7.”
He’s not kidding about his never-ending passion for the game either. While other kids his age are playing different sports or relaxing, T.J. is attending football camp after football camp and training with professional athletes.
“I got the chance recently to work with (former pro) Sean Jones,” he said. “We spent a lot of the time working on the defensive side of the ball with tackling and cornerback drills. I also trained with (Indianapolis LB) Edwin Jackson on ladder and hurdle drills.”
All that extra work has paid off on the field, where he’s helped lead his elite Atlanta youth team to numerous championships and won his fair share of individual awards along the way. He starred at receiver and cornerback for his squad, taking the first steps in his journey towards the NFL.
“Once I make it to high school, I want to leave my mark. That way I can get into a good college and eventually make it into the league,” T.J. said.
Lofty goals. But before he can conquer all of that, he needs to dominate the challenge that is directly ahead of him: middle school ball. And he’s addressing it the only way he knows, by training non-stop.
“That’s the main way I’m getting ready. Just taking things up a level,” T.J. said. “I’m getting stronger by doing workouts like push-ups and getting better endurance by running a lot. Just whatever I can do to elevate my game.”
Who knows what the future holds? The road to pro football stardom is long and treacherous. But if there’s one young athlete with the talent, motivation, and smarts to turn his dreams into a reality, it’s T.J.