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Herd receiver changes surname in tribute

HUNTINGTON - Andre Booker has shouldered his share of burdens, so what's a few more letters on the back of a football jersey?

The speedy, slightly built senior Marshall wide receiver returned to his Sarasota, Fla., home before the start of preseason camp to legally change his last name to Snipes-Booker.

The move is a tribute to his grandfather, Lee Otis Snipes, who was one of the primary male figures in Andre's life since birth.  

"That's my heart," Andre Snipes-Booker said after Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage at Edwards Stadium. "He raised me and made sure I went down the right path."

That was especially important to Lee Otis, who had one son, Roosevelt Snipes, squander a promising football career. Another son, Erin Snipes-Clark, died the morning Andre led Riverview to a win over rival Booker High in Sept. 2008.  

Andre's uncles have inspired him for different reasons.

"My grandfather doesn't want me to follow in my uncle's footsteps," Andre said, referring to Roosevelt Snipes. "When they see me, they see him."

That's understandable considering Roosevelt "Rosey" Snipes was a Sarasota High star running back who played his senior season in 1980. Snipes-Booker played the same position at Riverview High and during his first two seasons at Marshall.

Roosevelt rushed for 1,383 and 10 touchdowns in two seasons at Florida State (1983-84) before academics derailed his playing career. He was a supplemental draft selection by the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, but didn't make the team and returned to Florida, where he had several dalliances with the law and ended up in prison.

"When I'm home, my grandfather always checks on me to see if I'm running with the wrong crowd," Andre said. "He'll break down and cry if I am and it makes me feel bad. It makes me think hard about making the right decision."

So, Andre made this decision. He began the paperwork process about a year ago to change his last name. He went to a hearing Aug. 3 and left the courtroom with a new surname.

The extra letters won't slow him down. He says he runs harder when he thinks of family.

"The Snipes family is a big part of my life," he said. "I want to represent them."  

*  *  *

SATURDAY'S HERD scrimmage finished in the early afternoon, precisely two weeks from the Friends of Coal Bowl finale in Morgantown (noon kickoff).  

JaJuan Seider doubles as the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach at Marshall, and the young assistant has been awfully generous in funneling prospects to his meeting room.

OK, so perhaps it's not intentional, but my first look at his newcomers in pads confirmed the speed that Daily Mail sportswriter Derek Redd reported last week.

Academic non-qualifiers Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler, who were initially headed for Miami and Arizona State, respectively, each possess top shelf speed.

Grooms runs the 40 in 4.27 and Butler in 4.30. (And neither shy from contact).

Buried on the depth chart is Essray Taliaferro, who can run a sub-4.4 40. And Seider tells me sophomore Travon Van is "healthy as ever after his offseason tune-up."

Seider also had this to say about his stable of backs.

"You want something to put in the paper?" he said.

"I challenge any school in the country to a 4x100 using only running backs. That's how good I feel about this group."

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at or 304-348-7949.


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