The former Miami Hurricane offensive lineman speaks about his life and NFL dreams.
The 2019 NFL Draft will soon be upon us. A select few players are promised to be top selections, while hundreds of others, many of whom were not invited to the NFL Combine, are just hoping for a chance to prove that they can play in the league.
We recently caught up with former Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman Venzell Boulware, who shared his story with us as he prepares to chase his NFL dreams.
“I grew up on the south side of Atlanta. As long as I can remember, my mom has been a beautician and an entrepreneur. She’s owned a number of beauty shops in Atlanta.
I was that little kid that was always hanging out and running around at the beauty shop. I learned early on what hard work and being dedicated to your dreams looks like. I saw her running her own business, what that entailed, and that rubbed off on me. If you want to be successful in life, I saw the type of hours you have to put in.
I started playing football when I was four years old and fell in love with it right away. Growing up, I looked up to the guys that played in college and in the NFL. When I got to high school, I realized that I would have a chance to play at the next level.
My first scholarship offer came from Clemson. That was also my first official visit, right after my junior season. We’d just won the state championship and my recruiting took off after that. I chose to attend the University of Tennessee because I felt that they had a great family atmosphere and tradition. I had a couple of buddies from high school who were a year ahead of me that went there, so I felt comfortable committing to the Volunteers.
Within three years, I graduated and was able to transfer without having to sit out a year. When you transfer to another school, you don’t just leave, there’s a very arduous process that you have to go through.
The toughest part was going through my last semester at Tennessee, trying to graduate. I couldn’t afford to slip up at all. Also, I had to realize that everybody wasn’t going to like my decision and I couldn’t make everybody happy. I had to do what was best for me, and that taught me a very valuable lesson.
Going to Miami, I came in during the summer and was ready to jump right in and contribute immediately. The season wasn’t as successful as we wanted, but I was able to come in and accomplish some things individually.
Being able to start a bowl game was big for me because that was the first bowl game I ever started. I was able to show my versatility all season. We struggled offensively, but I was still able to grow as a player. Moving forward, I’ll be able to take all the lessons I learned with me to the next level.
I still had another season of eligibility left, but I felt it was time for me to take the next step. The financial struggle back home is real and I have my degree. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. It’s time for me to help out.
There was also a big coaching turnover at Miami with a new staff coming in and there was a lot going on with that.
If you don’t get invited to the combine, you basically have one day, your school’s pro day, to audition and showcase what you can do. Our pro day was in late March, which was later than a lot of other schools. I couldn’t wait to show the scouts and team execs, in person, what type of player and person I am.
Whoever drafts me or gives me a shot as a free agent camp invitee is going to get an extremely intelligent and versatile player that’s hungry and wants to impose his will on his opponents. I’m excited to show my value and prove that I can contribute to an NFL team.”