Front and center: Coaches move Boehm to new position

Squatting strong in the middle, Boehm eyes an o-line revival this season.
Sophomore guard Evan Boehm goes through a blocking drill at practice on August 27, 2013. Boehm moved from left guard to center in the offseason. Maneater File Photo

Confident. That's how offensive lineman Evan Boehm feels heading into Saturday's game against Murray State.

"We are going to get the job done," Boehm said. "We weren't happy with last year, but we are excited to get back out there. We have a lot to prove."

Boehm will anchor the line after an offseason change from left guard to center that put him in the driving seat. He has little experience at the position, so he worked all summer to learn the position. Boehm has not botched a snap since the first scrimmage of fall camp, he said.

"We thought it would bring us good stability in the middle," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said.

Last season, Boehm was thrust into the spotlight after injuries to the offensive line led coach Gary Pinkel to call his number. Boehm was the first true freshman to start in the Pinkel era and was the only offensive lineman to start all 12 games at the same position.

Boehm will not add a 13th game to that list. He moved to center in the spring and shared snaps with sophomore Brad McNulty in the Black & Gold spring scrimmage. The decision to move Boehm was something the coaches considered last season.

"I think he has done a great job so far," Henson said. "Evan is working really hard to improve. So far, he has done a phenomenal job."

Boehm used no special tricks to master the snap. He only practiced every day all summer.

"You have to get muscle memory on how you snap the ball,” he said. "You just snap over and over again, whether it's with a ball or without one. You just have to get reps like that."

He practiced at home, on the field with the team and by himself. Boehm said he would find a spot on the wall and snap to it a number of times before leaving practice.

He has also developed good chemistry with senior quarterback James Franklin.

"During camp, I started this thing where we would play music before practice, and we would do this little dance together," Boehm said. "It's a lot of fun. The chemistry between the quarterback and the center has to be on-point because if it's not there, then the whole offense is not going to work."

Boehm has fun with his quarterback and the rest of the guys on the line who he calls family. Last season was rough on that unit, as they weathered a storm of injuries and formidable defenses.

"It's something that needs to be brought up, but it is also something that needs to be put away in the past," Boehm said.

Last season's troubles fueled Boehm and the rest of the offensive line in the offseason.

"We went into this offseason with a bitter taste in our mouths," senior left guard Max Copeland said. "We trained angry. We were angry and dissatisfied. We deserved better than what we gave ourselves. Now, it's time to get what we deserve.”

Boehm said he was wide-eyed last season when he got his first start as a Tiger, calling it a dream come true. With a year of experience under his belt, Boehm is ready for Saturday's contest.

"I haven't had a bad snap since the first scrimmage, and that boosts my confidence," he said. "Now, we are excited to go back out there on Saturday and show that we are here and that the offensive line is ready to play."

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