FAYETTEVILLE — Former University of Maryland transfer Anthony “Tank” Booker is set to possibly have a big season at Arkansas this fall.
Booker, 6-4, 351, is a redshirt senior who is in the mix for plenty of action at one of the defensive tackle spots. Booker is nicknamed Tank on the field, but admitted to liking Kung Fu Panda when it came time to discuss movies and characters.
“I just thought it was a cool character,” Booker said. “They said you can be any character, I thought it was a good character. A cool character in that movie. So, why not?”
When asked if he was soft and cuddly like a panda then Booker had a quick answer.
“I don’t know about all that,” Booker said. “But he’s a friendly guy. But when it’s time to work he works. That compliments my game.”
His game is what caused the Razorbacks to recruit him. In 30 games at Maryland, Booker had 46 tackles, including 30 solo, 8.5 for loss, 2.0 sacks, 2.0 forced fumbles and 2.0 passes defended. Booker feels he’s a hard hat, lunch pail type player.
“I would say that describes me pretty well,” Booker said. “I bet that was probably my dad or somebody like that. I know he likes to use that saying. But I think that compliments my game pretty much. Just come in and work.”
Former Florida offensive guard, who is now playing the same position at Arkansas, described Booker.
“I mean, look at this guy,” Braun said. “It’s an immovable object right here. Definitely his power is his key thing. Just going against that every day just helps me hone aspects of my game that I don’t really get to see against smaller, quicker guys. So, I’m very thankful that he came here and I get to go against him every day.”
Booker had a lot of options when he entered the transfer portal, but is very pleased with the decision he made.
“I’ve been enjoying myself so far,” Booker said. “Just love getting around the people. The people are really nice here. Then fanbase is really great. Coach (Deke) Adams and Coach Pitt (Sam Pittman) are genuine people just like my teammates. I’m happy to be here.”
Booker credited his teammates and others for his smooth transition to Arkansas.
“Really, the D-line took me in with open arms when I first committed,” Booker said. “We’ve been talking since then. Figuring out how to get down here and then just being around the team, they really just brought me in with open arms. It’s been an easy transition, helping me learn the playbook, because they’re learning just as well because Coach T-Will (Travis Williams) is a new coach. It wasn’t that bad of a transition. It was pretty smooth for me.”
It also didn’t hurt that Arkansas is in the SEC which is a conference Booker wanted to play in.
“Really wanted to play in the SEC,” Booker said. “Really, Coach Pitt did a great job of recruiting me in the portal and had a relationship with him before in high school. So, just build on from that. And just competition in the SEC, going against guys like Braun, Brady (Latham), Beaux (Limmer), and also being in a great room in our defensive line. Just wanted to add a little bit to that.”
Booker went up against the Dan Enos offense some while at Maryland. Now Enos is at Arkansas just like Booker. Shared any secrets to the defense here?
“No, I mean, I know a couple calls.” Booker said. “But you try not to listen to the calls, you try to play your technique. And that makes everybody else better instead of, you know, but yeah.”
Booker also took time to recognize and praise his father, Anthony Booker Sr. and credit him for his success.
“My dad played a big role in my whole life,” Booker said. “Playing the game when he was coming up, and so my dad is the biggest role model I’ve had in my life. So yeah, I appreciate him. Everything.”
His dad is also partly responsible for his nickname Tank.
“Yeah, it just came along,” Booker said. “Early… It’s a long story, but basically me and my Dad are both named Anthony. And so instead of my mom calling us both Anthony, I started going by Tank. Kind of go a different way, but yeah that’s how it went.”
Booker is also an Eagle Scout. He talked about that.
“Just a lot of life lessons,” Booker said. “It built my leadership in high school tremendously. I wasn’t that vocal. At college, I kind of lost that vocalness, but I’m trying to get it back. Very proud moment of my life. Something that my mom really pushed for me to do and I just wanted to make sure I got that done for her, but also for me too. It was a great experience doing that, being in boy scouts since like 7 years old.”
Booker didn’t hesitate when asked the toughest merit badge to gain in the Eagle Scout?
“Swimming,” Booker said. “It’s pretty hard. I can’t remember what you all have to do. A couple miles. Different strokes, so it’s pretty hard.”
Booker and his teammates will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium at 3 p.m. against Western Carolina.