I’ve always been a Tiger fan, and I’ve always had the dream I was going to be wearing the Black and Gold and be a Tiger.
Football was always in Evan Bohem’s blood. Growing up as the son of a football coach – his father Royce coached Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West in Kansas City – the game was always his first passion. It was evident early on during his high school football career that Evan was going to have a chance to play football at the Division I level.
“I’ve always been a Tiger fan, and I’ve always had the dream I was going to be wearing the black and gold and be a Tiger,” Boehm said. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
His college offer list read as a who’s who in college football: Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska and of course Mizzou were among the 20-plus Power 5 programs that sought the four-star offensive lineman. But that is expected when you are rated as the No. 2 guard prospect in the nation. While many schools offered him the chance to pursue a football career, he felt that there was only one school that could help him grow as a man: Mizzou.
“What Mizzou did was just make me grow as a person and find my true identity,” Boehm said. “Being a part of Coach Pinkel’s era, he came in and he promised my parents that your son is going to be growing as a football player, but he’s going to be growing as a man too. You have my word on that. That’s what he’s done, and that’s what they’ve done at this school. They make you a better man, they make you want to become a better man and they teach you the rights and the wrongs of life.”
While Boehm certainly had a reputation of being team comedian – a simple Google search will likely unveil the 300-pounder weight lifting in Daisy Duke attire or ‘twerking’ on the Mizzou Football practice fields – he was thrust into college football right away. As a freshman in 2012, playing in college football’s premier line-of-scrimmage league, Boehm was a standout, starting every game. He earned Freshman All-America honors, just a prelude to what was to come during his standout career. He was the only Mizzou O-lineman to start every game in 2012 as injuries decimated a Mizzou team that finished 5-7, a disappointing finish for a team that had perennially been in bowl games.
“You go through so much, you put your body through so much and your mind through so much,” Boehm said. “But it’s all worth it because of the friendships and the brotherhoods that you build and the people along the way you that help you make it to where you are.”
Coming off a disappointing season in 2012, nothing was expected of the Tigers in 2013. To get back to a bowl game, the Tigers would have to rely on an incredible brotherhood inside the locker room. While national pundits all but wrote the Tigers off, leaders on the team like Boehm kept the belief that 2013 was the start of something special. What followed was arguably one of the best two-year runs in Mizzou Football history, all with Boehm centering a sensational offensive line that paved the way for a dynamic offensive attack.
While Boehm was a standout on the field, it was his charisma and energy off the field that helped create a team bond that was very unique over his final three season in CoMo. Boehm had a reputation as the team jokester.
"It's a delicate thing because some guys can't do it," former Missouri left tackle Connor McGovern told the Columbia Missourian in 2015. "Some guys can't go from laughing and then two seconds later strap on their helmet. I think it's definitely a genetic thing."
Boehm brought everyone together during his time at Mizzou, using his sense of humor and his unrivaled love for the university. He even had a retro Tiger logo tattooed across his chest. He laid the foundation for a team that won 12 games and the first of back-to-back SEC East Championships. Mizzou went from 5-7 in 2012 to 12-2 with a No. 5 final national ranking in 2013, one of college football’s greatest turnarounds that year. Only a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship Game prevented Mizzou from playing for the national title.
“When you surround yourself with great people and great guys that have the same goals and mentality that you do and push you to become the best,” Boehm said. “It makes you open your eyes more and see what else in the world you can do better.”
Another SEC East title followed in 2014. Boehm was a part of two January Bowl wins as a Tiger, winning the 2014 Cotton Bowl and the 2015 Citrus Bowl. He started every game of his four-year career and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2016 NFL Draft. He is playing at guard for them this year. He owes a lot of his success to his teammates and coaches, who pushed him every day.
“They taught me how to be a better man and always pushed me to be a better man and I hope I did that to the younger kids underneath me.”
Coming in here, 18 years old, immature and everything like that and having to grow up quick my freshman year because I was around older guys and everything like that, Mizzou made me a better man.
After a successful Mizzou career that helped him mature both as a player and a man, Boehm is realizing his dream of playing in the NFL. He recognizes that without the opportunities of generous Tiger Scholarship Fund donors, he likely would not be where he is today.
“You know, I told my parents when I started high school that my goal was to get a full ride scholarship so that I’m not in debt, you guys aren’t in debt, so we can go out and live our lives and enjoy it and not worry about paying off student loans or anything like that,” Boehm said, “Once I got it, the pressure was off. The full ride scholarship here at Missouri and the people that come with it are just second to none.”
His experience at Mizzou turned him from an immature jokester into a man who used his infections personality to bring people together and empower them to be their best. That is evident when looking at the team success that Mizzou had while he was suiting up at center. The man with a Tiger logo tattooed on his chest will always be grateful for his experience at Mizzou.
“Coming in here, 18 years old, immature and everything like that and having to grow up quick my freshman year because I was around older guys and everything like that, Mizzou made me a better man.”
What does it mean to be #MizzouMade? That moniker has been a staple for Mizzou student-athletes for years. It is often associated with athletes who have excelled at the highest levels of their respective sports, but the true meaning runs much deeper.
While there are certainly examples of former Tigers excelling in professional athletics, there is a much larger contingent of Mizzou student-athletes thriving in today’s fast-paced, competitive work environment. What each of those student-athletes learned at Mizzou has prepared them for life beyond sports.
The mission of Mizzou Athletics remains to prepare champions for life through a personal enhancement model that emphasizes academic and athletic excellence, social responsibility, career development and leadership in order to help each student athlete become a prepared professional in any field upon earning their degree.
#MizzouMade Monday aims to tell those stories of student athletes who are bringing those values and ideals of Mizzou into the real world every day.