Stanford senior defensive end Thomas Booker has won accolades for his dedication to being an athlete as well as a student. He is a nominee for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded to a college football player with the best mix of academics, community service and football talent.
Booker is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, an award for the best defensive player in college football. Last season, he earned CoSIDA Academic All-District and Academic All-American first team honors.
Booker is majoring in both economics and communications. He called Zoom learning an “interesting component” during the pandemic. To keep himself motivated during those times, he focused on his academic goals.
“Academics is always a priority for me,” Booker said. “My family impressed that upon me when I was young, my high school is very rigorous academically.”
A native of Ellicott City, Maryland, Booker attended Gilman High School in Baltimore, where he was a successful multi-sport athlete.
“My first sport was tennis,” Booker said. “Then basketball, baseball, I actually ran the 100-meter dash in track in high school.”
Along with having a strong academic curriculum, Gilman required students to play a sport every season. Booker rose to the occasion by being the captain of the track team. He came in first place in shot put during the Maryland Interscholastic Athletics Association Indoor championships, helping the Gilman track team to a state championship title.
In 2015, Booker led the football team to a state title. As well as being an athlete, he was a member of the Chinese Honor Society and the senior class vice president.
“I grinded in high school and it made it a little easier in college,” he said. “It’s also had me believing I don’t have to really compromise any which one of the facets of my person.”
His ability to balance both athletics and academics allows Booker time to intern at a private equity firm called RMWC. He noted that Stanford prepares their students “for a lot of different real-world scenarios and professions.”
“I’ve been analyzing companies to decide whether or not they should purchase shares,” Booker said. “I’ve been doing analysis real estate markets and potential investment markets through a variety of metrics like population growth.”
Booker was team captain of the Cardinal during the 2020 season; he executed 15 solo tackles, and three tackles for loss for eight yards. During the Big Game against the University of California, Booker committed one sack for four yards. His efforts earned him the Frank Rehm award, an honor that goes to the most outstanding defensive performer during the Big Game.
Being a senior, Booker puts in effort to build bonds with the freshmen of the team. He noted how the players discuss a wide range of topics in their everyday conversations. This helps players understand each other better and it even helps them communicate during games, according to Booker.
“When you are on the field and you have an issue that’s kind of a deeper conceptual issue, say … my outside linebacker might have made an inside move,” he said. “I can have that conversation with somebody on the sidelines and get into some of those deeper, conceptual things.”