Ultimate underdog Boggs makes it with Bears

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    From high school JV to NAIA and Division II, through injury and NFL rejections, backup center kept working for a chance

    Brad Biggs

    7:59 p.m. CDT, September 3, 2013

    Taylor Boggs drew a chuckle from his father, Dave, when he told him he wanted to be an NFL player.

    His mother, Terry, had a maternal reply you might expect.

    "She said I could do whatever I wanted," Boggs said.

    A long, circuitous path has brought Boggs to that level as he opens the season as the Bears' backup center, the understudy to 34-year-old Roberto Garza, who is in the final year of his contract.

    Odds have been stacked against Boggs for a long time. He was on the junior varsity team as a junior at Upland High School in Southern California and was a 195-pound outside linebacker and pulling guard as a senior.

    "I told the coaches I wanted to keep playing and the head coach (Tim Salter) was like, 'Maybe you could go to junior college and save your parents some money and go play Division III,'" Boggs said. "When I left that meeting, he kind of said, 'You're not going to play college football.'"

    Undeterred, Boggs started with an academic scholarship at the University of Pikeville, an NAIA school in Kentucky, where he was a 205-pound tight end. The school didn't have an expansive weight training facility and he quickly figured that would be an obstacle. He left after one year for Humboldt State, the only Division II school in California with a football program.

    He redshirted in 2007 and spent long hours in the weight room and adhered to a strict diet to help him fill out his 6-2 frame to about 290 pounds as he settled in as a center. Before his senior season he emailed LeCharles Bentley, the two-time Pro Bowl player whose career was ended prematurely by knee injuries, and asked for help at Bentley's training facility in Ohio.

    "I will be honest with you, I didn't want this kid to spend his money to fly out from California and then he sucks," Bentley said. "I said send me some film and let me kind of take a look and see what you are working with before we make that kind of commitment. I was thoroughly impressed. I said there is something to this kid as a football player. He came out, we put some tools in the toolbox and he goes back and he played well that senior year."

    After college, NFL scouts bluntly asked how he added 100 pounds since high school without performance-enhancing drugs. Boggs explained it was hard work, lots of it. He wasn't drafted, but the Jets signed him as a free agent in 2011. His opportunity ended when he suffered a torn ACL in the first week of training camp. From there, he reunited with Bentley to rehabilitate. Boggs went to rookie minicamp with the Bills in May 2012. That didn't pan out and he was back with Bentley again, moving to Phoenix to continue training.

    Boggs then had a brief stint in the short-lived UFL as a backup center for the Sacramento Mountain Lions. In all, he spent 56 consecutive weeks training with Bentley, every day but Sunday, until Bentley called Dwayne Joseph, the Bears' associate director of pro personnel and urged him to look at Boggs. The Bears brought Boggs in for a workout on April 9 and signed him to a one-year deal with no guarantee. He proved to be a quick study, making it through to training camp, where he settled in with the second team. After the first exhibition game, Boggs took nearly all the snaps in games when Garza wasn't on the field.

    Now he projects as a developmental player the Bears like. Boggs says he is 295 pounds but admits that might be with some dripping wet equipment, and he'd like to add some bulk. But he has good flexibility in his hips and knees that allows him to play with leverage. He has good feet and hands and anchors well. He's playing for an offensive coordinator in Aaron Kromer who has a track record for developing players who have come from off the beaten path.

    "Without a doubt, Taylor Boggs will be a starting center in the National Football League," Bentley said. "That is a promise I made to him a very long time ago. At times it wasn't looking too good. But this is a kid that stuck it out.

    "I'm just so happened to have a guy that I believed in that the Bears gave an opportunity. All a guy can ask for is an opportunity, and he earned it. This kid has looked and turned over every stone to try to earn every opportunity. He has never looked for a handout."

    Boggs is in Garza's ear constantly trying to pick up pointers. Garza is from a Division II program, Texas A&M-Kingsville, and he's been through a serious knee injury. He does not have an ACL in his right knee.

    "It was good to see him make the team after the long road he has had," Garza said. "He's always asking questions and trying to learn."

    Now it's up to Boggs to continue pushing. He says he is "cool" with Salter years after he doubted him. His wife, Megan, who had to give him plenty of pep talks over the last couple years while he kept training, arrives Thursday from Phoenix. He texted her first when he found out he made the roster and then Bentley, who hasn't been paid a dime for Boggs' training.

    "He believed in me and this is how I repaid him," Boggs said. "By giving everything I had at this. LeCharles is like family, a big brother."

    It's quite a story to imagine how Boggs stuck with it, from playing on the JV level as a junior at Upland, to now, four days from the season opener at Soldier Field.

    "I have been just obsessed," he said. "It's easy. I just love football. I love everything about it. I've always carried a chip on my shoulder, to prove to myself and prove other people wrong."


    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...-biggs-bears-chicago-20130904,0,2526980.story
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    This is a move I plainly don't understand. Boggs is an undersized OL who they have listed and a backup at both OC and LG. I might be able to accept him at OC weighing 285lbs but he better have some wheels on him and very sound technique if he's gonna play LG at that weight.

    Keeping Boggs who did have PS eligibility and cutting JT Thomas who did not if something I can't quite figure out and I don't agree with. Anyone care to hazard a guess why this guy made the 53 man roster when it's doubtful he'll be activated for any games unless Garza is out and may not even then?
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  3. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    When you're the guy on the bottom of the list, you need to be available to backup multiple positions. Boggs can do that. And if he develops as a center, that's another problem solved.
  4. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    Always like to see an underdog make it, but I honestly did not think he would be a guy that could not safely be put on the PS without worrying about him getting snatched up.

    This makes me think that they are very concerned about Garza.
  5. weneedmorelinemen

    weneedmorelinemen Veteran

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    Kid plays tough. I trust kromer's ability to get the most out of him. If he wants him on the roster to do that, then more power to him. Good to see a kid that wants it more than anything making the team, and Webb, who figured it would be handed to him despite his actual performance, is off the team.
  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    This ^^^^^

    We have a GM & coaches now who can think outside the box. Kromer has coached up "nobody's" to become NFL Pro Bowl offensive linemen. If he believes he has a solid center here for the Chicago Bears, then I respect Kromer on this. Heck, the Hall of Fame is full of guys like this - long shots that nobody believed in. Guys who didn't get drafted, but who ended up having great careers anyway.

    Hope this kid is a solid OC for us.
  7. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    If he was the guy that was the backup center during every preseason game I watched (1-3), he kinda sucked. But, "Trust in Emery" and all that, plus he's still "green".
  8. JPosh2012

    JPosh2012 Pro-Bowler

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    I too was a little surprised about this move but if we can develop as our future C that means one more problem taken care of for next draft.
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  9. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That is a great point. We seem to have come coaches now who can develop solid talent. If Kromer truly can develop Boggs into a solid center, then that does help us in the draft next year. We certainly have plenty of other needs to spend that draft pick on.

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