Booker ready to contribute to OSU defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- One of the revelations for Oklahoma State this Fall has been the growth of middle linebacker Donald Booker, who is thriving in new coordinator Bill Young's retooled defense.

Booker, a former junior-college All-American at Navarro Junior College, had trouble getting acclimated last season, making only 32 tackles in 13 games for the Cowboys as a junior.

"He typifies what happens to a lot of junior college players," Young said."They come in after playing in a relatively simple system and now they are in one that's a lot more complex. They are playing with guys who are bigger and faster and stronger. It's tough for them sometimes to get settled."

But Young's new defense has brought out some of the productivity that helped make Booker one of the nation's most heralded junior-college recruits in 2007, when he led the nation with 161 tackles.

Added to returning nucleus of senior starters Patrick Lavine, Orie Lemon and Andre Sexton, it's helped make the Cowboys' quartet of linebackers a pleasant surprise for Young in his early work with the Cowboys defense.

But Booker, a physical 5-foot-11, 235-pounder who has always turned heads with his hitting, has the kind of ability that could provide more of a physical presence to the middle of the Cowboys' defense.

"It's too bad he doesn't have three years to play with us rather that two," Young said. "That ideally would have let us bring him the first year and just get him ready."