It's about so many things, including intelligence, quickness, speed and strength, but all of that means nothing if you don't have that one thing that brings it all together.
You have to have it once you are in the down position. Breathing fire, spitting venom, ready to maul, manhandle and move anyone that is foolish enough to get in your way. Tyler junior college offensive lineman Shannon Boatman knows about that, because that's the way he plays. "You've got to be a warrior down there," Boatmen said of life in the trenches. "You get down there, you have to be ready for a war."
"That's where it's the toughest when it comes to injuries and physical contact every single play. So, you have to be ready to take it to the guy across from you every single down."
While the linemen are unceremoniously dismissed at many schools, there are still spots of glory they can attain. Yes, they are the anonymous ones, but that sometimes works to their favor. Take a screen pass for instance, where the linemen are asked to pull or run to the outside, ready to take out anyone that gets in their way.
And someone does. That's the moment every lineman cherishes and Boatmen talked about his most recent exploit of explosion on an unwary defensive back.
"It was a screen pass in our last game and I am blocking out front and this defensive back didn't even see me," Boatmen said. "He didn't see much after that, because I laid the guy out."
Boatmen's attitude and aspirations take him to the NFL one day, pulling and pass blocking with and against the best football players in the world. He's got a two year stopover in college, though, and the only problem is figuring out which college that will be.
Thus far Boatmen has taken visits to TCU and Florida State, which visits up-coming to Nebraska and Oklahoma State. South Carolina and Iowa State seem to be fighting for the last visit he has available.
Out of all those schools, considering his professional aspirations, you'd think he would be looking for an offense as close to what they run in the pros. Shannon didn't care, because he knows that whether you are in the "Pro I" or the "Wing T", there's only one thing that matters when it comes to making the league:
If you are good, you're good
"I don't care what kind of offense I am in," Boatman said. "I figure if I can pass block well and run block well, and coaches see my athleticism, especially for someone my size, it won't matter where I am from or what system they ran. They will see me as someone that can play."
Boatmen knows he can play, but it hasn't stopped him from looking at the colleges around the country and figuring out which has the best situation for him in regard to starters coming back and the overall depth at the position. He's not scared of competition, of course, but for the most certain situations when it comes to getting on the field right now, the less competition the better.
That's part of his criteria, but another is about where the program is going, what the atmosphere is like, and if the coaches care about their players. But it's all wrapped up by what matters to him and what he's all about:
"It's just a mind-set about getting better, becoming the best I can be and playing with guys that are just like that," he said. "Winning is as much about attitude as anything else. You have to have that to succeed."
Boatman said that he lists no favorites right now and says of all the schools that they are even until he's taken them all. Once that's done, he'll figure out which teams lie where.
Shannon will be able to sign during the mid-term period, which spans from December 21, 2005 to January 15, 2006, and he will have two years to play two.