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Josh Booty

"Go Fish!"

That might as well have been Josh Booty's reply to Louisiana State's frenzied pleas of "We need a quarterback!" Last week the 6'3", 210-pound Booty, who had been the Tigers' prize catch of the recent college football recruiting season, became the top selection of the Florida Marlins (and the fifth overall pick) in the major league draft.

That news was not well received in Baton Rouge. "I hope the Marlins fold," groused LSU assistant football coach Phil Bennett, who had recruited Booty since his sophomore year. "I'll never recruit another football-baseball player. I'm going to try soccer."

When the Tigers reeled in Booty, who starred at Shreveport's Evangel High, in February, Booty seemed poised to become the most-heralded offensive back in Death Valley since, well, Dennis Quaid. It was Quaid, you might recall, who portrayed fictitious LSU standout Gavin Grey in the 1988 film Everybody's All-American.

Indeed Booty has been everybody's high school All-America Parade magazine and USA Today, to name two—in not one but two sports. Last fall he set national high school career passing records for both yardage (11,700) and touchdowns (126) while leading Evangel to the Class A state title. This spring he stole 25 bases in 25 tries and batted .429 with 20 intentional walks while earning his third consecutive all-state selection at shortstop.

Booty's prodigious feats are the stuff of legend in Louisiana. There was, for example, the time Josh sprinted downfield to block for his brother Abram, to whom he had just completed a 12-yard pass, thus springing Abram for another 10 yards and earning Josh the passing yardage record. Or the time recently when he tossed a baseball from home plate that cleared the 14-foot-high centerfield wall 365 feet away.

But now that the Marlins have called—as Booty says, "at 12:16 p.m. on June 2"—it appears he'll take his act outside Louisiana. Like George Lombard, the Parade All-America running back from Atlanta who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the second round last week only after he promised to forgo his football scholarship at Georgia, Booty seems prepared to put his gridiron days behind him. "I love LSU, and I'd love to play college football there. That has always been a dream of mine," says Booty. "And I could still play both sports at LSU, you know. But I've always said that I want to play major league baseball. I don't want [Buffalo Bill defensive end] Bruce Smith coming at me."

"Josh is in as unique a position as I've ever seen," says family adviser Jeff Moorad, a partner of superagent Leigh Steinberg. "But I'm confident that the Marlins did their homework on evaluating his intentions." (A clue: Booty is currently holding daily 90-minute workouts with Romy Cucjen, Evangel's baseball coach.)

If there is any solace for residents of the state that calls itself Sportsman's Paradise, it is that Josh has three younger brothers: Abram, 16; John David, 9; and Jay, 5. But who knows what sport they will choose?

Shortly after last Thursday's 12:16 p.m. call, Josh, his brothers and some pals celebrated by playing an hour "It was great fun," says Josh, "jostling, skunkin' and splashing around."


"We were playing water hoops. Our neighbors have a basket on the side of their pool."

Fish gotta swim.



The versatile high school star is likely to be lured away from LSU football by the Marlins.