Former Boise State lineman Dereck Boles committed to Arizona on Sunday, a little less than a month after being cleared of felony mayhem for a 2016 altercation with a teammate.
Boles argued that he acted in self defense and a jury agreed, thus allowing him to play high level college football again.
After being dismissed by Boise State, Boles spent this past year at Coffeyville Community College.
“Playing at Coffeyville last year taught me that nothing can bring me down,” Boles said. “Even though I had all the legal stuff to deal with, I was out there playing and giving it 100 percent each day.
“Nothing can stop me and the sky's the limit as long as I take care of everything the right way off the field.
“It then becomes easy on the field, and those learning experiences are what I’m looking to transfer over to Arizona. Having a leadership role and being on a team with players who really want to win is special.”
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Florida native is thankful for another opportunity.
“This experience has most definitely made myself a better football player and person,” Boles said. “Thinking to myself throughout the entire time that I may never play football again is scary.
“Just having a second chance is huge. I can’t even put into words how much this opportunity means to me. I’m ready to get back on that stage again.”
Arizona kept in touch with Boles with Marcel Yates continuing the same dialogue he had since coaching Boles at Boise State.
“It wasn’t easy because I was picking between them and a few other schools,” Boles said. “Arizona has been with me since day one, and that’s what it really came down to.
“Coach Yates was with me at Boise for a year so he knew the situation I was in and the truth behind it.
“Nothing immediate came up until recently, but Coach Yates knew I was going to get cleared so it just seemed like a good fit for me.”
The Arizona coaching staff did its due diligence, which is something Boles is certainly thankful for.
“Arizona knew the information about my situation and a lot of people don’t know the accurate story,” Boles said.
“They just read headlines and think they know it all. With Yates being from Boise and all the Arizona coaches consulting with him about me, I knew that once I was cleared this opportunity would become a reality.”
Now Boles’ attention turns to being ready for the upcoming season.
“Right now I just want to get back to playing the game, to be honest with you,” Boles said. “I’ve been dealing with all this stuff for a year now.
“Having your name slandered like that is a horrible thing to deal with, especially when you have everyone looking down on you.
“I’m grateful to have no charges and for this to be over with. Getting back to football and helping the team is what I look forward to.”
“I’m ready to start working out, learning the plays and just get back into a football mindset. I don’t have to learn too much because Coach Yates runs a similar scheme to what I was familiar with at Boise. It’s all just very exciting.”