What earned Tennessee the nod over Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes?
“He said he loved the feeling of the school and felt it was a great opportunity,” Olten Downs told IT. “He said there’s great coaching, too.”
Rated a three-star prospect and America’s No. 51 offensive tackle recruit by Scout, Boulware announced for the Vols on his 17th birthday. At that age he probably will continue to grow and mature, sending his upside off the charts.
“He’s still growing in all phases,” Downs said.
That’s an intriguing thought because Boulware already has the physical maturity and athleticism of a grown man. When asked if the player reminds him of anyone, Downs essentially said the young behemoth is incomparable.
“I haven’t been around an offensive lineman that I felt was a great athlete, in that they could play almost all of the positions on the field,” the coach said. “He could play outside linebacker because he can really run. That’s the thing about him: He’s a big old skill guy at heart.”
Downs, who guided Creekside High to a 15-0 record and state title in 2013, has the numbers to back up that assertion.
“Venzell uses his size very well, and he can run,” the coach said. “He runs about a 4.8 (over 40 yards). I call that a fat man’s 4.4. He’s really athletic. He pulled his hamstring, and big guys don’t pull hamstrings.”
Downs says Boulware graded out “about 90 percent” as a blocker last season and seems equally adept at drive blocking and pass protecting.
“His run blocking is excellent,” the coach said. “He has great feet and he continues to drive. He’s relentless in finishing blocks and sprinting downfield.”
Creekside is a decidedly run-oriented team but Boulware has shown he can protect the passer when the need arises.
“He pass protects well,” Downs said. “He’s the complete package. We throw a little bit, and he didn’t give up a sack all last year.”
Although he will be an offensive guard at Tennessee, Boulware plays right offensive tackle for Creekside, which opened its 2014 season with a 55-41 defeat of South Cobb on Friday night. He also is a spot player on defense.
“He has played some defensive tackle in short-yardage situations,” Downs said. “Most schools are recruiting him as a right offensive tackle but I believe he could play left tackle.”
In addition to his skills on the football field, Boulware seems to be a quality individual.
“Venzell’s a great young man,” Downs said. “He comes from a good family, works hard in the classroom and the weight room. He’s one of the leaders on the team. I’ll be interested in seeing how far he can go in life because he’s a hard-working young man.”