Growing up in the small town of Anderson, S.C., Ben Boulware’s childhood was filled with black, blue, and silver. The Panthers were his favorite team, and he had big dreams of making it to the NFL.
May 5 was a special day for Boulware. It was the day he signed a free agent contract to wear those colors. It was the day he got a shot at making the Carolina Panthers roster. He may not have been drafted, but all he wanted was the chance to prove he belongs in the NFL, competing with the best of the best.
There are many speculations to Boulware’s future with the Panthers. Many say his size gives him a disadvantage, but his heart, grit, and perseverance shines just as bright as it did throughout the Tigers’ road to the national championship.
Here is what sports writers, teammates, and other media outlets are saying about the former Clemson linebacker and his future as an NFL caliber linebacker:
“One thing I have noticed about Ben Boulware. He is all about that action. Always the last to be pried off a ball carrier.” –-Jeremy Igo via Twitter
“A lack of size is what made Boulware fall down the draft board, and then ultimately off it. But his tenacity-fueled production at the highest level of college football made him the most appealing undrafted free agent. And now he’s landed in a place where he can develop while surrounded by highly talented veteran linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. Then he can pounce when an opportunity presents itself.” –-Sean Tomlinson, Bleacher Report
“Ben Boulware knows only one approach: full-steam ahead. That attribute helped him build an impressive football career at Clemson; now he’s hoping it will do likewise as he strives to make it at the next level with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.” –-Scott Keepfer, The Greenville News
“Boulware has attended rookie mini-camp, OTAs or “organized team activities,” a mandatory mini-camp and rookie workouts with the Panthers, who have repeatedly expressed their delight in having the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the National Championship Game fall into their laps as a free agent after going undrafted in April.” –-Scott Keepfer, The Greenville News
“Nobody can read plays like defensive MVP Ben Boulware.” —President Donald Trump from The Charlotte Observer
“I’ve seen a young man who studies the game and takes it very seriously, and does his responsibilities the way he should as a football player. On the field he’s showing you he reads very quickly, makes good decisions, gets himself downhill, plays with his hands very nicely.” —Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera from WCNC.com
“Undrafted rookie linebacker Ben Boulware is slowly getting more opportunities in team drills, and he’s taking command of the huddle when he’s out there. This isn’t a shocking development considering the leadership and moxie he displayed at Clemson.” —Max Henson, panthers.com
“But he’s motivated, spirited and smart – enough to find a way via special teams or a practice squad. He has impressed Panthers Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly, other teammates and coaches. If he doesn’t stick in Carolina, some team will notice.” –Gene Sapakoff, The Post and Courier
“Finally, the former Clemson standout made a few plays during Wednesday’s practice. It started by breaking up a pass in team drills, although it should have been an interception. Boulware later forced a fumble on rookie fullback Alex Armah. Last but not least, Boulware met Fozzy Whittaker at the goal line, where he wrestled to keep him out, eventually making him fall backwards. Baby steps.” —Lucas Ewing, Panthers Wire
“He’s been annoying to me just like he has been to Luke (Kuechly). It’s one of those things you love to see. You love to see that this young man wants to be part of it and he works very hard. He’s a very smart player and we’re very pleased with his progress. He’s one of those guys that is constantly trying to learn and that’s huge, that’s good.” —Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera from GoUpstate.com
“Ben asks good questions, smart questions, ones that let you know he’s thinking and understanding and processing what’s going on. I think he’s smart and really does a good job understanding.” —Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly from GoUpstate.com
“I think his time to shine is when the pads go on. Some guys are athletes and some guys are football players. He’s a football player and better when the pads are on and it’s a live period and you’re hitting and you’re running and getting off blocks. I think that’s his game. I think he’ll have a good opportunity the next couple of weeks to show what he’s got.” —Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly from GoUpstate.com
“It was obvious this spring that Boulware, who’s 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, has a size disadvantage. But Cash faced the same issue as an undrafted rookie a year ago, and the former safety fought and won a job. In that sense, Boulware has an advantage. He’s a natural linebacker with a nose for the football. If he can sniff out enough plays in training camp and the preseason, the former Clemson star has a chance to beat the odds again.” —Bill Voth, panthers.com
“Many fans want to see Ben Boulware on this list, and it could happen. The problem is he is a middle linebacker with two other middle linebackers already a lock to make the team. The only way Boulware claims a jersey is by being a standout special teams player in all four preseason games.” —Jeremy Igo, carolinahuddle.com
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