The Class of '94
Josh Booty believes it is a typo, but because it concerns the Booty legend, who can be sure? On a recent cover of Tiger Rag, a magazine devoted to LSU sports, Booty's photo appears with the headline JOSH BOOTY, ANGEL QUARTERBACK. The word should have been Evangel—Booty's high school in Shreveport—but Angel may be more apropos.
Outside as well as inside Louisiana, Booty has already achieved celestial rank. A 6'3", 210-pound senior, he is considered the best schoolboy quarterback in the nation. He is also a shortstop whom Baseball America has proclaimed the country's top high school prospect. Five Sundays ago, when Booty stood up in church (not just any church, but the First Assembly of God, whose services are broadcast locally on a show entitled The Best Is Yet To Come, and one of whose associate evangelists is Josh's father, John) and orally committed to play both sports at LSU, well, hell (sorry, heck), the entire state just got down on its knees and gave thanks.
Booty obviously never spoke with Robert Davis. Three years ago Davis, who broke the Alabama career rushing record at Homewood High, just south of Birmingham, was coveted by LSU for the same reason Booty is today: To restore Tiger football to its glory days. "LSU did the best job of recruiting me," says Davis. "At the time I thought that [LSU coach] Curley Hallman and his staff were really down-to-earth people, and they were."
Today Davis, who's a sophomore, is Homewood-bound, having recently become the first full-scholarship athlete in the three-year history of Alabama-Birmingham's football program. At LSU, Davis was a tailback on the USA Today Fabulous Freshman team of 1992. But last fall he began in third place on the Tiger depth chart. Why the drop in status. Davis wondered. Yes, he was on academic probation, and he had missed a few days at his summer job at Pearson's Luggage in Baton Rouge, but what did that have to do with his ability on the field?
"Our other backs simply were performing better," says Hallman. "Robert was going through a maturing process."
"Mind games," says Davis, who describes the coaching stall in Baton Rouge as something like the Khmer Rouge. "Room inspections, getting us up at 5 a.m. for practices; we even had one drill where we had to wrestle each other. LSU will never win a national championship as long as Coach Hallman is there. That military crap doesn't work anymore."
Hallman has a decidedly less scatological term for his regimen. "We call it I he Daily Must," he says. "You must be solid daily in the academic, athletic and social areas of your life. I'm disappointed that Robert wanted to leave."
For Davis, Alabama-Birmingham and its home stadium, Legion Field, where he last played as an 11-year-old in the same backfield with David Palmer, give him an opportunity to come home and make things right. "Leaving LSU is the best thing I could have done," he says.
For Booty, going to LSU is the next chapter of the legend. "Deep in my heart I knew that I wanted to help bring LSU football a national title," says Booty. "Staying in Louisiana was the best thing I could have done for myself."