The great innovator Alexander Graham Bell once said “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Such is the case for senior Jaxon Boley who is set to embark on a completely different path as a college football player for the University of Wyoming.
Boley had aspirations to play baseball at the collegiate level with solid interest from Duke, WKU, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Baylor and Maryland, but that plan was altered due to an arm injury is sophomore year. Boley recalls, “Baseball was my entire life for quite a few years and I really started to progress as a pitcher. Towards the end of my high school season during sophomore year I started to have some trouble with my throwing shoulder and later that summer during travel ball I was scheduled to pitch in a Saturday night game in Georgia, with over 100 Division 1 colleges there to watch us. In the first inning I threw a fastball, and felt my shoulder give. After that I never pitched a baseball in a game again. I spent the next year doing therapy 5x a week, and seeing the world’s leading baseball surgeon. After a year of no progress my Rheumatologist told me that I had Juvenile Arthritis and that it was likely my shoulder was never capable of pitching and that it would be best if I gave it up.”
Like a lot of young kids, Boley played football, basketball, and baseball. His father (Scott) is the all-time leading scorer at LCHS, and had a great career at WKU. Sister Erin is now at University of Oregon playing basketball. However, Jaxon’s path to the collegiate level has been much different, to say the least.
Boley says, “I stopped playing football and basketball around 6th grade year because I was sick and became diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and for a while I couldn’t do a whole lot physically. When I was able to come back to playing sports baseball was the first thing to come around and I excelled at it, specifically pitching. I turned baseball into a year round sport and just slowly put the other two sports behind me.”
Boley would spend his junior year in high school trying to get his arm back in to pitching shape. After a year of rehab Boley felt like it was best to close the door on baseball. Enter Head Football Coach Josh Jaggers. Boley recalls, “Coach Jaggers was hired as the new football coach at the end of my junior year, someone who I had known personally for a long time. I had just decided that I was giving up rehabbing for baseball, and so pretty much I was doing nothing for a very short period. I decided to come to the football meeting at the end of that year and talked to Coach Jaggers and told him I might be interested. I hadn’t thought about it even a little bit but I figured it couldn’t hurt at least looking into it.”
Boley continues, “Shortly after, Coach Jaggers came to my house and again tried to talk me into playing, telling my parents and I what opportunities it could bring to me, and of course at the time I was skeptical but I went along with it. I attended summer practices and enjoyed it, I just went with the flow and tried to learn back the things I had once known but also learn a position that I had never had experience at. Time went by fast and our preseason 7on7 tournaments were where I started to find my place as a Tight End. Practices came natural and the season came on quickly and I thought I had no problem blending right into the offense during our first few games. Once I had those first couple games under my belt I think I really started to see myself grow and do more than what my position required.”
Jaggers is quick to point out, “He’s so smart. Unbelievably intelligent. When you’re talking to him you almost have to take a step back and realize that you’re in fact talking with an 18 year old young man and not someone twice to three times his age.”
Jaggers explains Boley’s interest in football “When he first came out he didn’t know what to expect in the sense of where he would play or his playing time for that matter. As he told me back in May of 2017, he just “didn’t want to go through high school and not play the sport he probably loved the most when he was a kid”. Jaxon wasn’t able to play due to some health issues, but he wanted to give this football thing a try. The idea of getting the chance to play in college I don’t think ever entered his mind, let alone at the major college level.”
Jagger continues, “Jax will be the first to tell you that early on, from just a technical standpoint of getting in a stance, coming off the ball correctly, executing the proper blocks and all of the intangibles that come with playing that position that things weren’t a smooth transition at first. In 7v7 when he could play standing up and running routes, catching balls…all of those were a given. He looked the part in that role.”
Boley says, “I had no real expectations at the beginning of my football season. I knew I was going to give it a shot and do what I could but for the most part I just let everything come to me.”
Jaggers concurs, “He was all in. He just wanted to be part of the team to be quite honest. I don’t think he even expected much playing time.”
That would quickly change as Jaggers recognized Boley’s talents. “We talked as the preseason weeks went on and throughout the early part of the season that to be able to get noticed (from colleges) at this position and to help us as a team, that he needed to learn to become even more aggressive than he naturally is already and that he needed to have great technique while operating with a very high motor. He did just that week in week out.”
The interest in Boley happened very quickly. Jaggers recalls, “EKU loved him. He also picked up a lot of interest from WKU in the final weeks before signing day. He had opportunities to go to both of those (EKU full scholarship and WKU as a preferred-walk on). Montana and Montana State were two other programs who were recruiting him very hard then he had all of the NAIA, D2 and D3 schools in the state that were after him as well.”
Boley recalls, “I never thought playing football would give me the opportunities to play at the next level but I’m more than blessed that it did. About halfway through the year Coach Jaggers started telling me that I would have the chance to play college football, and about a week after that EKU came to watch me play at Campbellsville and later that week they brought me on campus for a home game. After that I sat down with my parents and looked into some schools that I had a legitimate chance of catching their eye, and also schools I would be willing to go to. We made a list, weened it down and then finally sent emails to the recruiting offices for those different teams. Many schools got back with me, but most of them didn’t. After a few weeks the schools that had happened to reach out to me and show the most interest were EKU, WKU and Wyoming. I took visits to all of them in January and February, and every school was impressive and I could have seen myself playing at any of the three.”
Boley would eventually commit to Wyoming after a college visit there in January. “My last visit was to Wyoming, and it only took a few hours getting to meet the coaching staff and exploring campus to know that it was where I truly belonged. They played at a very high level of football and the coaching staff really convinced me that they believed I would play a huge role in my time there on campus. The Sunday of my visit there I decided I was going to commit to Wyoming and I told Coach Jaggers that night on the plane ride home and made my decision public the next morning at school.”
Boley is focused on making an impact as he will report to Wyoming June 6. “I expect myself to be competitive as soon as I reach campus and to really grow as a player on and off the field because I know with only one year of football under my belt that I have a lot to learn. I think I have a lot of natural talent at my position and God-given height and body to play it. I think by my 2nd or 3rd year I expect myself to be getting playing time whether it be through offense or special teams.”
So, one may question the interest in pursuing a college degree and football career out west. Boley says, “My family had always taken us out West on trips and it was always something that sparked my interest and I always imagined myself going to college or living in the Rockies. Some of the best parts of Wyoming and other places out West are hard to put into words because it’s something you have to see and experience in person to understand.”
Boley plans to study Zoology, with more than likely a minor in Biology or Photography. “Either way I am going to pursue a career with exotic animals, either as a Veterinarian, Zoologist, or Wildlife Biologist,” says Boley.
Boley concludes by saying, “I’m extremely excited to get out there and start working but I also have loved my time here and I really appreciate everyone being supportive because I’ve had a lot of up’s and down’s throughout high school. I know my friends and family are truly happy for me and I’m forever thankful for their support and I’m going to miss a lot of what made my life so great here in Hodgenville!”
When asked about Boley’s potential as a football player Jaggers is very direct. “Not to sound cliché. But the sky is the limit. Coach Bohl and his staff run a Pro style attack out there where they utilize many tight end and full backs. They are projecting him to be in their Tight End rotation as an R-Fr. Then again, he also has the frame to put on another healthy 50-60 pounds and play at one of the other interior linemen spots. The fact that he is saw ‘raw’, and how good he became in such a few short months to go along with his size, ability and intelligence is just something that big time college football programs love to see. I’m just beyond words in excitement for him and what the future holds.
Jaggers concludes by saying, “Jaxon decided to take a chance on this game and look what happened. Hollywood can’t write scripts better than this.”