Mature Boulware impresses Ravens Pass rusher could plug hole in defensive line

February 09, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS -- Florida State University's Peter Boulware seems to meet all the requirements to be the Ravens' next No. 1 draft pick. He is a churchgoer, articulate, comes from a strong family background and was one of college football's top pass rushers.

The Ravens, who will have the No. 4 overall pick in the annual NFL draft in April, were already gushing about Boulware before Friday night's interview. And the junior defensive end from Columbia, S.C., did nothing to change the minds of coach Ted Marchibroda, vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome, defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and defensive line coach Jacob Burney.

"The kid had a really great interview," said Newsome, who along with Marchibroda will interview 15 to 19 players at the scouting combine here. "He is mature, and the character that we heard so much about came across. He is a very sincere kid.

"He has the temperament we have talked about getting in players. He plays hard and has a love for the game."

There is no guarantee that Boulware will be the Ravens' choice, but he makes it hard for them to look in another direction. The Ravens had the league's worst defense last season, allowing 368.1 yards per game, and they had only 30 sacks.

Marchibroda has talked about pass rushing being the team's weakest link, but Boulware would provide instant pressure. At 6 feet 5, 255 pounds, Boulware had 19 sacks and 20 tackles for losses last season. He could double as a linebacker/defensive end for the Ravens, who are debating whether to run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

"He is like all the guys who make it to the next level," said Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary, a former NFL defensive line coach. "He is as good a second-effort player as you're going to see in the conference or anywhere in the country. If there are better than him in the country, I don't know where they're at."

Boulware comes baggage free. He is a Mr. Nice Guy, a friendly, well-spoken business major at FSU. His father, Raleigh, is a radiation therapy specialist at a South Carolina hospital, and his mother, Melva, is part owner of a furniture business and a homemaker.

Boulware's oldest brother, Raleigh Jr., is an electrical engineer with an Atlanta firm and his older sister, Kala, is a second-year medical student at Wake Forest.

Occasionally, some of his teammates jokingly call him "church boy," but they applauded his heroic deed last Nov. 26. Boulware and teammate Andre Wadsworth were coming home from a movie when they spotted 21-year-old Justin Brantley waving his hands in the street with his face covered with blood. Brantley had driven his car into a ditch.

As Wadsworth called police, Boulware removed his coat and wrapped it around Brantley's head to stop the bleeding. The cut required 30 stitches, and a few days later Brantley showed up at practice to thank the players.

"Actually, it wasn't something heroic, but something I felt needed to be done," Boulware said. "My mother always said God gave us different abilities, different talents. Whatever it is, find it and use it."

"Peter is the nicest guy in the world. He wouldn't hurt a soul," FSU middle linebacker Daryl Bush said. "But when he gets on the football field, his whole personality changes. He'll yell and scream at officials. He pops off on opposing players. He becomes very focused and intense."

Sacking quarterbacks is what Boulware does best. He is not overpowering, but uses a combination of speed, power and intelligence. He spends hours studying opponents' tendencies.

He also runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. Even more startling is his sprinter-like start and relentless pursuit.

"Even when he was young, he always had that edge on him," Raleigh Sr. said. "We would worry just as much about the other player as we would Peter."

Said FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews: "To see the way he has developed is quite satisfying for a coach. He is as quick as any defensive lineman we've ever had here. He is going to be a fine pro for some NFL team."

Boulware made the decision to turn pro on Jan. 6, joining Ohio State's Orlando Pace and Shawn Springs, Northwestern's Darnell Autry and Kansas State's Chris Canty atop the list of talented juniors leaving school early.

"There was not much left for me to do with another year in college," Boulware said. "After 19 sacks last year, what else is there to do?

"My goal now is to get drafted in the first round, and to play in the NFL. No matter who takes me, I think I have a lot to offer them."

NOTES: The Ravens may not make a quick decision on whether to re-sign unrestricted free agent and defensive end Anthony Pleasant. Marchibroda would like to run a 4-3 defense next season, but the team is still tinkering with the idea of a 3-4. If the Ravens run a 3-4, Pleasant would not be in their plans. Pleasant made slightly more than $1 million in base salary last season. Because the team has so many holes on defense, it may be impossible to sign a big-name free agent for defense. "But don't rule it out entirely," Newsome said.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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