One tough hombre

CLEMSON - Ben Boulware might be an interesting case study as it relates to nature vs. nurture. When the pads come on, he's one mean, nasty dude.

Boulware, a sophomore linebacker from T.L. Hanna, said some of that edge comes from growing up alongside his older brother, Garrett, a junior catcher on the Clemson baseball team.

"It's probably just the way my parents raised me, definitely, living with Garrett, getting bullied by him all the time," Boulware said of his on field demeanor.

And there's one other reason.

Dirt bikes, Boulware started racing them when he was 4.

"Everyone in my entire family, extended family -- I grew up, me and all my cousins raced motocross…I ended up quitting because I ended up breaking my arm," Boulware said. "They almost had to cut my arm off, because it got infected so badly. Racing motocross with my cousins every single day, that physical nature of motocross definitely translated over to football."

Without hesitation, Boulware said motocross is way more physical than anything he's encountered on the gridiron.

"You're on a bike going 40-50 miles per hour, running over jumps," he said. "When I broke my arm, I got ran over. I hit a rock, flipped and got ran over by everybody, and was knocked out.

"I had a hole in my arm. My bone went through my arm, got dirt on it and got infected. My dad put duct tape on my arm and tried to make me go race again. My mom cussed him out and he finally gave in, sent me to the hospital."

His motocross career was over before he could even get to the fourth grade.

"I was out for two years, because I had a lot of operations on my arm," Boulware said. "That scar there, my arm's just screwed up, really."

The injury doesn't seem to have affected his ability to strike fear into opposing ball carriers.

"You've got to play -- some guys are 6-4, running a 4.4 -- I wasn't blessed with that height or that speed, so I've got to make up for it with the way I play," Boulware said. "I would much rather be my size and play with the mentality that I've got to play whistle to whistle than be 6-4, huge and fast and be lazy sometimes. I never take off plays, so I feel like that helps me out."

Boulware finished fourth on the team with seven special teams tackles as a freshman last season. Over 73 snaps at middle linebacker, he had 18 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Boulware is competing with Tony Steward for the starting weak-side linebacker spot in 2014. Just how that shakes out remains to be seen, but we know this much: Boulware is going to put up on hell of a fight. Top Stories