The 2020 Hail Varsity Football Yearbook hits mailboxes and newsstands very soon. In anticipation, we’re sharing stories that hit the cutting room floor from our main features. First up, a look at senior defensive back Dicaprio Bootle as told through the lens of someone who knows him best.
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Chris Jones has high expectations for Dicaprio Bootle. He always has. Those expecations are what prompted a “Twitter war” in 2018, but it’s all in good fun. Jones just wants Bootle to be great.
Jones has a better understanding of who Bootle is than most. The former Huskers defensive back lived with the current Huskers defensive back for one year in 2017. It was Jones’ senior year at Nebraska and Bootle’s redshirt freshman season. The two became close—they think of each other more as family than friends at this point—so there’s a lot of trust between the two and they talk often as a result.
“That's my brother,” Bootle said. “I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. We just shared a lot of moments together and stuff like that. I know it's one of those relationships that no matter how far apart we are, it's going to last forever.”
Bootle is preparing for his senior season at Nebraska. He started every game in 2019—the first eight at cornerback and the final four at safety—and finished the season with 31 tackles, six pass breakups and one forced fumble. That helped earn him Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten from the media.
He has big dreams too. Bootle—who always felt he was under-recruited until the Nebraska offer came along—wants to play in the NFL. He’ll need a big senior season, which is something he’s talked about with Jones.
“I don't expect anything different from what he's been doing,” Jones said about Bootle’s senior season. “All I expect is him to take it up a notch and to be a little bit better than he was last year. We talk a lot and I know where his head at. He said, ‘I'm going to just give it all I got this last season.’ I applaud him for that because there are a lot of guys who go in with a high standard and can't hold it that high.”
There's one thing that Jones wants to see in 2020 though and it goes back to that Twitter war from two seasons ago: interceptions. Bootle is always close, but it’s the one thing Jones thinks will elevate Bootle by the time the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around. With experience in the NFL himself—he’s currently a cornerback with the Arizona Cardinals—he has an idea of what teams are looking for.
“I pretty much see an NFL corner out of him,” Jones said. “I just told him he needed to catch the ball. Other than that, we joked about it the other day. I hit him up. I was like, he was talking about the combine and stuff like that. I'm like, ‘Oh, you can run a fast? They don't care how fast you is, bro. We want to see you catch the ball.’”
Jones laughs retelling stories like that. He likes to give Bootle a hard time, especially when he knows what can be accomplished. The sky is the limit for Bootle, at least from how Jones sees it, and he’ll be there to be a support system and a help when Bootle needs it.
After all, Jones has lived it. He’s still living it. It also doesn’t hurt that the two are a lot alike when it all comes down to it.
“He's just like me,” Jones said. “I don't care what you say I am. You might set something else for me but I might set that bar a little bit higher. You might set something too high,and I'm like, ‘That doesn't even seem like it's going to be accomplishable.’I have my goals set. I don't let nobody choose the goals for me.
“That's the kind of mindset that he has. I applaud him for it, and I'm excited to see what he does this season.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.