CARROLLTON, Ala. — All Hunter Booth wanted was a chance.
Like a lot of high school seniors, the Pickens Academy standout wanted to continue his football career in college. Unfortunately, the hard-working linebacker/offensive linemen didn’t receive a lot of interest from schools despite a season in which he played an integral role in leading the Pirates back to the championship level.
Faced with one last chance to make an impression, Booth made the most of the opportunity. Looking back, Booth feels being named the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman at the Alabama Independent School Association showed college coaches he could play at the next level.
The coaches at Huntingdon College agreed.
On Thursday, Booth made it official by signing a letter of intent and scholarship to attend Huntingdon College.
“It feels good,” Booth said. “I am excited and ready to get down there. I have been working out hard. I am ready to get down there and see how it goes. Four more years playing football is something special.”
Even though Booth said his first contact with Huntingdon College came a month ago, he felt he made a strong showing against some of AISA’s best players. He said he had to adjust to a shotgun snap after snapping to a quarterback who was under center all season. He said he had fun in two days of preparation for the game and then in his final action as a high school player.
“I think it helps out a lot on my résumé,” Booth said. “When I sent them my highlight film, I sent them everything I won, and I think that really helped out.”
After receiving some interest from another school that was looking for a long snapper, Booth didn’t hear back from that school. He then sent a highlight tape to Huntingdon and put the video on YouTube. He said he received an email from the Huntingdon football coaches, who asked him to call them. He attended a spring luau at the school and knew he had found the right fit.
“It is going to be a culture shock,” said Booth, who could have a chance to earn playing time at linebacker or long snapper. He said he plans to study education and hopes to become a coach. “Working out around here, I am probably the strongest, but going to college I am really going to have to step it up and start working out hard. It is going to be a lot harder. It is going to be a full-time job.”
John Gartman, who coached Pickens Academy to a 10-3 record and a runner-up finish to Restoration Academy in the AISA Class A Championship, praised Booth for his work ethic. As coach at the All-Star game, Gartman said Booth’s performance wasn’t different than what he saw from his senior leader on a daily basis. As a three-year starter who played both ways, Booth was a consistent contributor who made the most of his 6-foot, 210-pound frame, Gartman said.
“I think his performance at the All-Star game turned some heads,” Gartman said. “He hadn’t attracted much interest from colleges before the game, but there were college scouts at the All-Star game, and I think he got some attention from it. He stood up at the right time.”
Gartman, who was a walk-on for four years at the University of Alabama, said Booth will have to adjust to the rigorous demands of having a “full-time job” as a member of a college football team. He feels Booth’s work ethic and discipline will help him succeed.
“He has a high motor when he practices and he gives everything he has in the games,” Gartman said.
Huntingdon College is a Division III school in Montgomery, Ala. A member of the Great South Athletic Conference, the school’s football team is coming off a 6-3 season in which it earned its first top-25 national ranking. Division III school don’t give athletic scholarships, but Booth, who has a 3.4 grade-point average, received an academic scholarship. He also received an All-Star football scholarship as the West All-Star team’s representative.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.