Ben Boulware a big hit

ESPNU Watch List LB Ben Boulware is a tackling machine. It's not something he has grown into. It's just always been that way for the Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hanna hitting machine.

"I have known Ben a long time," said James Buttrey, who coached Boulware in middle school and as a freshman. "Even at a young age this was a kid that played with an extremely high motor and was never afraid of contact. He has always seemed like someone that has this sixth sense out there on the field."

Boulware, 6-foot-1 and 225-pounds, racked up 180 tackles as a junior and 151 as a sophomore. Barring injury this fall he could hit the normally unreachable number of 600 career tackles. Right now, Boulware has 420 career tackles.

"I got off to a great start here in high school," Boulware said. "I played with nine or 10 really good players. My brother started next to me at linebacker. So did my cousin. You know how it is, especially when you are the younger guy, I wanted to stand out.

"This past year we played with a bunch of new guys and I wasn't as comfortable. So I just tried to go out there and make plays."

It didn't take long for his coaches to realize Boulware was something special.

"Ben's just a wrecking ball who chases everything down," said T.L. Hanna coach Kenyan Fouch. "He's focused and reads his keys. He's just a great player and his junior season he turned into a man out there. But he's always been that way here.

"This season will be a little different. Everyone will know about him. They will be focused on him."

Boulware picked up his first scholarship offer last fall. It came shortly after Boulware went to Tampa for a USF Bulls game.

"A couple of weeks went by and then I got an offer from USF," Boulware said. "It caught me by surprise. I was pretty excited."

Since that one, Boulware has received 10 more. His latest was from Vanderbilt earlier this week. In between the Bulls and Commodores were scholarship offers from Duke, Stanford, Ole Miss, UCLA, Maryland and Louisville.

"I have coached him a long time, since he was 11, and Ben has always been a hard worker," Buttrey said. "He personifies that old adage; hard work pays off. Ben does the extra stuff to make himself better. He has that attitude. That's why he's in this position now."

This could be just the beginning for Boulware. Several other teams are actively recruited him, including Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame. In fact Boulware will attend Georgia's junior day this weekend.

"I have been talking with Georgia a good bit," Boulware said. "I have pretty much spoken with every coach there. I am excited about this weekend.

"I talk with coach [Chris] Rumph at Alabama. I am going to try and get over there for a spring practice.

"Notre Dame is trying to get me up to South Bend for a junior day as well. Right now I am just open to everyone. I want to see what school fits me the best. This is a life decision not just a four-year decision. That's how I look at it."

Clemson is 25 minutes down the road and South Carolina is nearby. The Tigers and Gamecocks haven't offered, but that could change quickly. Remember, both teams made defensive coordinator changes this offseason.

"Actually, I talk with South Carolina quite a bit," Boulware said. "It's a lot of Facebook stuff and handwritten letters from them too. I have talked with coach [Brent] Venables and coach [Chad] Morris at Clemson. I know Clemson wanted me to come to their junior day Saturday but I am going to see Georgia.

"We will see what happens. Right now I am just enjoying this. I will take my time and figure it out."

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.