QB Booty trades baseball for football

Tuesday, August 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHENEY, Wash. (AP) _ The Seattle Seahawks' signing of Trent Dilfer doesn't worry rookie quarterback Josh Booty. If the NFL doesn't work out, Booty can always go back to baseball.

Booty spent four years in the Florida Marlins' organization and was the team's starting third baseman on opening day in 1998, filling in for the injured Bobby Bonilla.

But a family tradition in football _ his father was his high school coach at Evangel Academy in Shreveport, La. _ was enough to lure Booty out of baseball and into college at LSU.

He was the Tigers' starting quarterback for two seasons.

``My family is really a football family,'' Booty said. ``When I'd go home in the offseason in baseball, they were always talking football. So I was always going 'Maybe I should be playing football.' They got me pumped up and wanting to play.''

As a senior, Booty became the first LSU quarterback since 1989 to win All-Southeastern Conference first-team honors. He finished sixth on the school's career passing list, throwing for 3,951 yards.

The Seahawks drafted him in the sixth round this year.

``Right now, I've got to dive right into the middle of this football thing,'' he said. ``I don't know if I'll ever play baseball again, but I love what I'm doing now.''

Booty is one of five quarterbacks on Seattle's roster. The Seahawks signed Dilfer, last year's winning Super Bowl quarterback, on Friday. The veteran has since been splitting the bulk of practice time with starter Matt Hasselbeck and backup Brock Huard.

It leaves little time for Booty and second-year player Travis Brown.

``I'm just learning the offense like any rookie would be,'' Booty said. ``In my position right now, I just need to watch and pay close attention to what's going on. I'm just not getting a lot of reps.''

Booty has no plans to play both sports at the same time, like Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson did.

``I've talked to my parents about it,'' Booty said. ``I did the baseball thing and now I kind of want to give myself to football and see how far I can take it _ if I can be a star one day.''

At 26, Booty is the second-oldest quarterback on Seattle's roster. Only Dilfer, 29, is older.

It's having fun at practice that keeps Booty coming back for more.

``I enjoy being a rookie all over again, I wish I was 21,'' he said.