Senior Bowl gives Boley another chance to impress NFL|
By Bradley Handwerger
DAILY Sports Writer
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MOBILE — Michael Boley's 1-year-old son Mckale and 4-year-old son Michael bent down towards the FieldTurf in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Thursday and picked up Auburn running back Carnell Williams' helmet.
Then they walked off with it.
While Boley's children eventually returned Williams' headgear, the Southern Mississippi linebacker has similar plans today in the 56th annual Senior Bowl (3 p.m., ESPN2). Make no mistake, Boley hopes he, too, will be seen on the field in Mobile running amuck with North running backs as his prime feast.
"It's great. Coming out of high school, as I told many people, I didn't play defense," said Boley, an Elkmont High graduate who will play on the South team along with Williams.
"I had high hopes of going to college and play offense. Just being able to come out here and playing the game, it doesn't matter what I play. As long as I'm out here playing the game, it's fun."
Boley is a two-time All-American, is the 2004 Conference USA defensive player of the year and was the most valuable player of the New Orleans Bowl. He finished this year with 423 total tackles, including 59.5 stops for loss and 28 sacks.
And while the South defense is filled with star players from bigger schools — such as Southern California's Shaun Cody, LSU's Marcus Spears and Corey Webster, and Auburn's Junior Rosegreen — it's very possible Boley could be the team's biggest defensive star in today's game.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., gushed about the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Boley this week during Senior Bowl workouts.
"Michael Boley is a big-play guy," Kiper said. "He's good in space. He can make good plays in coverage. Always around the ball. ... I think he's a third- or fourth-round pick."
Kiper wasn't the only one struck by Boley's game.
"He makes plays. He's athletic," said Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden, whose staff is also serving as the South's coaches during Senior Bowl week.
"He has athleticism to play sideline-to-sideline. He has a lot of traits we like in our defense: the ability to cover, the ability to play special teams, his ability to tackle in the open field and get to the football. He's a good athlete and a great kid."
By all accounts, Boley is a good teammate to have.
Southern Mississippi offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet said Boley is one of the good guys.
"Michael is a laid back dude. He's real down to earth," Parquet said. "He's the same guy he was when we came in our freshman year. On the field, he's a great player. He goes hard every play."
For Boley, making the Senior Bowl has served as one of his goals for at least a year.
"It's what I expected," Boley said of the week. "I came down here last year and watched a couple of my teammates play in the game. I got a feel for how it was going to be down here as far as all the coaches being in town earlier in the week."
Senior Bowl glance
Game data: Today's game features some of the nation's top college football seniors and will be at 3 p.m. at Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
State players of interest: Auburn: DB Junior Rosegreen, QB Jason Campbell and RB Carnell Williams. Alabama: LB Cornelius Wortham, DL Anthony Bryant and OG Evan Mathis. Southern Mississippi: LB Michael Boley (from Elkmont). Mississippi State: OT David Stewart (from Lawrence County). All are on the South squad.
Injured and will not play: Auburn DB Carlos Rogers, Alabama OT Wesley Britt, UAB WR Roddy White.
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