One key Florida A&M University football player has moved into his biggest role yet, from a walk on player to his current position as a starter.
All it took was a vision, a plan and action for Gregory Boler, 21, to make it happen. The senior mechanical engineering student from Philadelphia Pa., walked-on to the FAMU football team his freshman year in spring 2006. He is now a starting outside linebacker on scholarship.
Boler, who played football at his high school, North East Magnet School, as defensive back and tight end, sat out his senior year with a knee injury.
“I knew that I wanted to play college ball, there was no question that I knew that game and I was ready, I just had to let them see me,” Boler said.
Although he was ready to jump in and play, the belief that walk-ons seldom make it, plagued the first generation college student.
“A lot of my friends were saying that I wouldn’t make it and then since I’m from up north, there is this stereotype that people from up north can’t play football, but my parents were very supportive and I had faith,” Boler said.
Co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Earl Holmes was quick to dispel the rumor that most walk-ons are not successful.
“When some guys walk-on, they are late bloomers and haven’t reached their full potential,” Holmes said. “They may need to develop more mentally and physically.”
Holmes, who is also a successful walk-on story, explains that walk-ons have a certain hunger to prove that they are just as worthy as the scholarship players.
“It’s not hard for walk-ons to make it, but there is a challenge because of the loopholes that they go through to prove that they can do it,” Holmes said.
He continued by adding that there is no animosity between the walk-on players and scholarship players because football is about the players stepping up to prove that they belong on the starting line- up.
Even though Boler is currently a starter for the football team, Holmes said there is always room for improvement.
“Boler is a smart guy and he gives you what you want on the field. From the time that he first came, to now, he has worked harder and harder and every day. He did something to catch my eye,” Holmes said.
“There is room to grow because he didn’t play last year or the year before that. He’s developed physically he just needs more experience. He’s coming around.”
Inside linebacker Vernon Wilder, 22, a senior physical education student from Miami, agrees with coach Holmes.
“He’s doing a good job, I expect him to do a better job next year; all he needs is the experience,” Wilder said.
Fellow Philadelphian and comrade of Boler, Christian Robinson, 19, a broadcast journalism student, said that Boler earned his position and deserves it.
“It took him a while, he worked hard, but I knew he could do it,” Robinson said. I’m proud of him, he’s representing for people up north and giving others the drive to want to walk-on to any team and shine.”
The 6’3, 220lbs linebacker realizes that he is not the fastest or the strongest, but Boler said he is excited about the chance to improve himself.
“I have worked so hard to get where I am now and I’m grateful for the chance I have to show myself,” Boler said. “Football is my first love.”
Boler said that he has learned so much from his fellow teammates and looks forward to success in his future.
“I learned a lot of techniques from Daniel Shepard, last year’s linebacker; he gave me a lot of advice,” Boler said.
“I have one more year to keep proving what I’m made of and I would like to go to the NFL, but if that doesn’t work out then I’ll continue my education to earn my masters in mechanical engineering,”