The next time he attends an Anderson County Touchdown Club dinner, Ben Boulware hopes he is one of the “old heads” in the audience honoring other young men’s accomplishments from the Electric City.
“It is a cool experience and it is a great way to wrap it all up,” Boulware said as his hometown of Anderson, S.C. honored him Wednesday with “Ben Boulware Day.”
The former Clemson linebacker and All-American capped off the festivities by raising Clemson’s National Championship banner outside the Anderson Civic Center and then speaking to all the young men who were honored from around Anderson County high schools for their accomplishments on the gridiron this past fall.
“The dream is possible,” said Boulware about his message to them. “I know a lot of them have aspirations to play at the next level, whether that is at Clemson or at any other school around here. I sat in the same seats they are sitting here tonight. I sat in the same seats in the library once a week. There is a lot of hard work being accomplished. Any dream is possible. I have been in their shoes and I worked my butt off to get to this point.”
Boulware worked his tail off to become the Tigers’ starting linebacker by his junior year in Tigertown. A four-year letterman, he capped off a great college career with an All-American season while being one of the team leaders during Clemson’s run to its first national championship in 35 years.
The feeling of raising the 2016 National Championship Flag on Wednesday evening was the same one he had back in Tampa, Fla., more than three months ago when the Tigers took down Alabama, 35-31, to win the national championship.
“I had that same feeling when the clock struck zero,” he said. “There are not a lot of things that kind of happen in your life like winning a national championship and you see all that hard work pay off when you are with your brothers, your team and your coaching staff.
“For it all to come together and beat a team like Alabama was really a special experience. I hope we just can build another pole and bring another national championship back to this area. It is a really cool experience. It kind of wraps it up until the draft happens next week.”
Boulware expects to be a late-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which begins next Thursday in Philadelphia, Pa. He and eight other former Tigers are expecting to hear their names called out during the three-day event.
Boulware has already said he will stay in Anderson for the draft and does not plan to have any outlandish parties or anything like that. It will be just him, his parents and his brothers and sister.
No matter where his NFL career takes him, Boulware says he will come back to Anderson because this is his hometown and the people at the Anderson Area Touchdown Club are the first ones to believe in him and he will never forget that.
“I’ll kind of stick to my roots,” he said. “These are the people I have grown up with my entire life, played Pop Warner ball with … I’m coming back here. I live ten minutes down the road. I have been here ever since I got back from training. I plan to come back here every off-season because this is where my roots are at. This is where I’m comfortable. Tonight, I’ll be around people I have been around my entire life.”