VISTA — Tommy Booker Jr., a Parade All-American tailback, wanted his fellow Vista High School students to share the experience of his signing of a national letter of intent Thursday on campus.
When Booker signed with San Diego State University, he did so standing among a boisterous student body during lunch break.
Most major signings are done routinely in an office or classroom with representatives from the future school and perhaps some reporters present.
But not this time.
"The school has been with me from the beginning," Booker said. "They gave me a lot, and I thought I should give them something back by sharing this with them. I feel like they're family."
The feeling is reciprocal.
The school's marquee said: "Good Luck Tommy at SDSU." Booker even got top billing over the Vista girls' basketball team, which will play in Saturday's section final.
Booker's parents were not able to attend their son's signing because of work commitments, but Booker said they planned to sign the letter Thursday evening when they came home.
Although Tommy Booker Sr. had said earlier that he favored Arizona State, he told The Times on Tuesday that he would sign his son's letter to attend SDSU, a school Tommy Booker Jr. never officially visited.
Booker, The Times' San Diego Section back of the year, rushed for 2,144 yards and 26 touchdowns last season to lead Vista to the section 3-A championship game, in which the top-ranked Panthers lost to Fallbrook.
He was placed among the top 100 high school players in the nation by United Press International and was rated the nation's top prep recruit by the Dallas Morning News.
Booker weighed the pros and cons of Pacific 10 programs such as Arizona State and Washington and rebuilding programs such as San Diego State.
He gave his parents a list of the reasons why he wanted to attend SDSU: the coaches, the weather, the fact that the Aztecs play on grass and that he has already established himself in San Diego.
At Thursday's news conference, Booker said: 'I feel like I've built up a foundation in San Diego County and I wanted to build on that."