Note: The following appears in the NC State gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $6 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
Ben Boulware. That is a name feared throughout college football. However, to those who know him best, he is just a good-hearted, caring, family man. Don’t believe us? Just ask Boulware to talk about his family, who resides in nearby Anderson, S.C., and an immediate glow comes across his face and his eyes light up.
“My family was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Clemson,” explained #10. “I believe I was destined to come here.
“Every Sunday, I go home and hang out with my family. I would rather hang out with my mom and my dad than most of my friends.”
At the center of the Boulware family is the youngest of the siblings, Cameron. A senior at T.L. Hanna High School who likes to play the drums and run cross country, Cameron is autistic. He has also given his older brother, Ben, a unique perspective on life.
“Cameron teaches me life lessons and values without realizing it. His attitude about day-to-day life of always being happy, even dealing with more pressures than I do, helps me be a better person each day.
Boulware’s older brother, Garrett, also has a legacy at Clemson. He was a catcher for the Tigers from 2012-14 and now plays in the minor leagues with the Cincinnati Reds’ organization. A career .295 hitter in 150 games, he was drafted in the 16th round after serving as a team co-captain and being a Second-Team All-ACC selection in 2014.
Having seen the two brothers’ athletic careers bloom at Clemson has been a special memory for his parents.
“It’s cool for them to see me grow up with this program,” said Boulware. “It has been fun for them to see both me and my brothers’ careers. I am glad they come to all of my games, because they are who I play for.”
However, the Boulwares were not always a football family. When they were children, Ben and Garrett raced motocross, traveling much of the week and racing on the weekends. But one injury made his mother realize enough was enough.
“In third grade, I broke an arm racing in Virginia,” remarked Boulware. “It was so bad that the bone popped out. The injury got dirt in it and got very infected. I was out of racing for a year-and-a-half and I had to get an IV attached to my heart because I had dirt in my bloodstream. We almost had to cut my arm off because of it.
“My mom was tired of the injuries and was stressed from traveling all the time. So I decided to move to a safer sport…football.”
Once he started football, Boulware never looked back. At one point, there were three Boulwares stacking the roster at T.L. Hanna High School.
“My freshman year of high school, it was me, my brother and my other cousin all playing linebacker. Growing up playing with my brother and my cousins is my fondest memory of playing football.”
T.L. Hanna High School is not the only place the Boulware family shares. Much of his family graduated from Clemson or nearby.
“My dad got a degree in welding at Tri-County Tech and my mom majored in computer science at Clemson. My older brother played baseball here and my sister is a junior packaging science major at Clemson.
“It is so cool to share this with them. I love my family and I like being close to them.”
Last spring, Boulware had the opportunity to leave Clemson early for the NFL draft. However, something inside of him stopped him from declaring.
“College football is fun. I love Clemson and college is fun. I had one more year left in college and I didn’t want to leave that behind to go into the real world. I knew I wasn’t done here.”
He is off to a great start in his final year. He had a game of national significance in the 42-36 win over No. 3 Louisville on October 1. He had a career-high 17 tackles, three tackles for loss, a recovered fumble and pass breakup. Boulware was named national defensive player-of-the-week by FWAA, Lott IMPACT Player-of-the-Week and was named the top defensive player for the week by the Bednarik Award.
When the time does come, Boulware said he will be ready to contribute to his new team in any way he can.
“I prepare a lot for each game, so by Saturday, I am calm and comfortable. I am a very instinctual linebacker…I am always able to find my way to the ball. I give 110 percent all the time. I make a lot of plays that surprise a lot of people because of it.”
Something that surprised Boulware when he first arrived at Clemson took place when the 2013 seniors tried to instill some advice in the new class of freshmen.
“I remember being a freshman and hearing all of the seniors saying it goes by fast. You need to maximize your opportunity, and the four years have gone by so fast. I really learned to maximize my time here once I realized how fast it was flying by.
“I am trying to make the most out of each opportunity I have. College and a college football career go by so quickly. I can’t believe it is almost over for me.”
When it is the end for Boulware at Clemson, he wants to be remembered this way.
“I want to be remembered as a teammate who put the team first and gave it my all on the field for my brothers, coaches, family and this university.”
March 14, 2019