St. John’s Christian football coach Brandon Clontz wouldn’t bet against Nai’Ryan Bookert. He has the utmost confidence his former quarterback will do just fine at his next stop in downtown Charleston.
Bookert (6-3, 210) recently committed to continue his playing career for the Citadel Bulldogs after a stellar stint on Friday nights at the small private school in Moncks Corner, located in the shadow of Berkeley High School.
Bookert also had a preferred walk-on offer from the University of South Carolina.
“I’m sure plenty guys are saying I could have done all that at St. John’s Christian,” Clontz said, “but the thing about Nai’Ryan is that he’s very competitive. I think he may go in there with a bit of a chip on his shoulder or feel like he’s got something to prove but I have no doubt he can play.”
Bookert guided the Cavaliers to the SCISA 8-man championship game in 2019 and powered them to the SCISA Class A semifinals last fall. As a senior, Bookert passed for 1,897 yards and 16 scores while running for 1,115 yards and 19 touchdowns.
He could have put up mind-numbing numbers on defense, too, but didn’t see as much action on the other side of the ball. Clontz couldn’t afford to get Bookert hurt but his star player was still in on 56 tackles.
After the season, though, Bookert saw plenty reps as an outside linebacker-strong safety in a pair of all-star games. Bookert played defense in the SCISA North-South all-star game and also made nine total tackles in The Blitz Bowl against all levels of players after the season.
“I don’t know exactly what Citadel’s plans are right now but originally they wanted him to play on defense,” Clontz said. “He was our heart and soul and was really our best player on defense. He loves to play defense. He wanted to pour his heart and soul into defense but he was also one of the best quarterbacks in SCISA.”
After football, Bookert starred on the basketball court for the Cavaliers, powering St. John’s Christian into the second round of the SCISA Class A basketball tournament. He averaged 18 points, six rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.2 steals.
Clontz, who played at Newberry College after Berkeley High School, hasn’t missed opportunities to prepare the future Bulldogs player. Clontz recalls his time at the next level.
“I’ve already told him you’re going to get to play the Clemsons and South Carolinas,” Clontz said. “You’ll get on the field with those guys and it will be a great opportunity. I’ve warned him. Every day you have a meeting, you’re watching film or doing some drills. It’s like a job but he’s always been a really hard worker.”