Everybody is talking about how much they hope the Chicago Bears can somehow reunite Justin Fields with one of his Ohio State wide receiver teammates in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. That is hardly a surprise given how much magic the three had together for two seasons in 2019 and 2020. Sadly, both receivers are far too talented to slip into the 2nd round. So unless Chicago were to trade up into the 1st, which is unlikely, that dream won’t come true.
Still, it doesn’t mean Fields can’t find a way to bring in at least one of his former teammates. He’ll do some extra legwork to lure Chris Booker to Chicago if he is smart. Don’t feel bad if you’re unfamiliar with the name. The senior spent two years for the Buckeyes as a backup. He made only two catches during that time—both of them in the year after Fields left.
So why in the world should the QB even bother?
Namely, because Booker has untapped potential. He’s 6’3 with understated speed and surprisingly polished as a route-runner. After dropping out of football at Dayton in 2018, he transferred to Ohio State with no intention of playing again. However, he was convinced to join the school’s club football team. In his first game, he scored touchdowns on a reception, an interception, and a kick return. His head coach knew he had way too much talent for that level right away. So he pestered the school’s varsity program to give Booker a shot.
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They finally did after a year. He became a regular on their scout team and would catch passes from Fields in practice.
“It’s crazy,” Booker said. “Justin is one of the greatest players I’ve ever played with, had the pleasure of speaking with him. Just being around him every day, it’s amazing. Where I’ve been and being able to be in the circumstances I’ve been, it’s really incredible.”
So the two know each other well. Teammates and coaches alike grew surprised by his progress. That included receivers coach Brian Hartline, a former NFL standout. While he never cracked the offensive starting lineup, Booker became arguably the best special teams player in the entire program and one of the best in college football. Every time somebody was making a play on kick coverage or blocking units, #86 was in the frame. Sadly the ascent came too late in his career to drum up draft interest.
The kickoff fumble recovery. Walk-on Chris Booker, who had a nice tackle on the opening kickoff, makes the hit here. pic.twitter.com/17dwxyK8cW
— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) November 15, 2021
Cardale Jones deep ball to Chris Booker: pic.twitter.com/PScM51eYQI
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 23, 2022
Justin Fields should know what Booker can do
The Bears are razor thin at wide receiver. Unlike the situation in college, Booker would be coming to a roster with very few proven options outside of Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle. In these scenarios, it is somebody who impacts special teams and develops a connection with the quarterback that often wins out in the end. He just so happens to have both advantages in his pocket already.
Sure it would be a consolation prize to landing Wilson or Olave, but Booker is the type of player worth taking a chance on. He’ll be dirt cheap to acquire since nobody expects him to get drafted. Justin Fields knows him and has practiced him several times in the past. Lastly, it is common knowledge he takes his role as a special teams ace seriously. He checks all the boxes this new Bears regime is looking for.
Hungry, hard-working, athletic, and versatile.
For a rebuilding team, this is the kind of risk they can afford to take. Booker may never develop into Fields’ favorite weapon, but he has more to offer on offense than he had a chance to in college. Barring that, he can become the next Sherrick McManis. Somebody that carves out a long-term role in the third phase.