Ben Boulware feeds off negative energy. When someone tells him he cannot do something, he is driven to proven them wrong.
When he committed to play football at Clemson in 2012, a man by the name of Tripp Williams on Twitter said, “Ben Boulware will never start for Clemson.” Boulware responded, “S/O to @TrippWilliams60 for the motivation. You gonna be my background of the next year.”
Williams turned out to Boulware’s motivation for the next four years. When he reached a certain accomplishment or milestone in his career, Boulware would flash Williams’ tweet with what he has accomplished below it.
His most recent one to Williams came on Jan. 12
“He’s in the Navy, and I feel bad calling him out,” Boulware told Sports Illustrated last week. “I respect him, and I’m grateful for what he’s done for our country. But he’s the one who happened to say it. He called me out, and I feel like he has to be held responsible.”
Williams is not the only who has called Boulware out, or at least been used as a motivating source for the Tigers’ All-American linebacker. Following Clemson’s first road win over Florida State in 10 years, ESPN analyst Desmond Howard said after the game the Clemson linebackers were the defense’s achilles heel.
After Clemson beat Alabama to win the program its first National Championship since 1981, Boulware went and got a tattoo of the College Football Playoff Trophy put on his achilles heel, which he showed to everyone through social media.
“(Howard) said the linebackers were the achilles heel of our defense. I completely understand why,” Boulware said. “Dalvin Cook had a really good game. He ran for 169 yards and four touchdowns. But Dalvin Cook is who he is. He’s one of the best running backs in the country. Me and Kendall Joseph both had good games. I don’t think Dalvin Cook balling out was just because of the linebackers.
“I feel like the linebackers were a big part of our success, so what better place to put the trophy than my achilles?”
So Boulware now begins the next chapter in his life, and you guessed it, he is once again being told he cannot do it. Of course this time people are saying he can’t make it in the NFL. They’re saying he too short and too slow to be an NFL linebacker. And that’s just the way Boulware likes it.
“Stuff like that adds a little extra fuel to the fire. It provides a little extra motivation,” he said.
However, Boulware says he is going to try and ignore all of that for the next few months. He says the pre-draft period is going to be difficult and he is going to do his best not to read all the tabloids or hear all the naysayers.
“I’m going to try to focus on me. I know I’m going to get completely pooped on this entire process, so I’m going to try my best not to let it get in my head,” he said.
Boulware just finished his week of practices and then of course played in the game at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday. He is already headed back to Gulf Breeze, Fla., where he is working out with LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Texas’ D’onta Forman and Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
The Clemson linebacker says he is going to do all he can to make his measurables better, but in the end, he hopes NFL teams will not pay attention to all the measurables as much as what they see on film.
“I hate that they put so much weight on height, weight and 40. That doesn’t make a good football player,” he said. “The fact that they put so much money on that blows my mind. I want to make the most of this opportunity and do the best I can do, but I know at the end of the day I’m a football player.
“I’m not going to measure 6′ 3″ and weigh 245 and run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. That’s not who God intended me to be. Those aren’t the blessings He placed on my life. He blessed me in other areas, like the drive to go to work every day. People watching my tape is where I’ll make a lot of my money. I’m proud to say that. I’d much rather be the guy who is a good football player who doesn’t run a 4.4 than be the guy who is 6′ 4″ and runs a 4.3 and sucks at football.”
–Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
We are now taking orders for our limited edition magazine Mission Accomplished. Remember Clemson’s championship season with this great magazine from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year. Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!