No. 7 on the Arizona Wildcats Badass list: Brant Boyer and Rob Gronkowskiby Javier Morales on Oct. 25, 2011, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
Don’t forget: For all the links, Twitter feeds and news feeds related to Arizona and its opponents, go to Morales’ site WILDABOUTAZCATS.NET. No other Arizona sports Web site is like it!
No. 7: BRANT BOYER, linebacker (1992-93)
Brant Boyer embodied the merciless image of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense as a team captain in 1993. Boyer, a senior inside linebacker, talked tough and played that way, leading the UA to a 10-2 record and a 29-0 win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl that season.
The Wildcats lost 8-7 at No. 1 Miami in 1992 in what was the coming-out party for the Desert Swarm. When Arizona was afforded the chance for a rematch in the Fiesta Bowl, Boyer did not hold back.
“This program will be on a new level,” Boyer was quoted as saying by the Miami Herald three days before the game. “When we beat Miami, it’s going to be a different story.”
Boyer, who led the Desert Swarm that season with 90 tackles, was referring to Arizona’s status nationally compared to Miami heading into the game.
The Desert Swarm defense backed up his remark. It forced two fumbles, had three interceptions, recorded four sacks and recorded the first shutout in the Fiesta Bowl’s history.
“Desert Swarm and our team was a bunch of too small, too slow, not highly recruited guys that played with a chip on their shoulder and had something to prove all the time,” Boyer communicated to me Tuesday. “Combine that with the great coaching staff that we had; that’s why our team was tough to beat.
“The thing I’m most proud of while playing at U of A is the memories and relationships that I have from those times. There’s nothing like it. You can’t get it back and you can’t ever replace a group of guys coming together like that.”
If given the opportunity to talk with this year’s Wildcats — coping through a 2-5 season in which head coach Mike Stoops was fired — Boyer would address the work involved to be highly competitive.
“I would tell this team to WIN everyday they show up to work and they have a responsibility to EACH OTHER!” Boyer stated in a message to me. “Anyone can punch the clock during the week and then crank it up to play in front of 60,000 people on the weekends, but not every team can come together and play for each other!”
Boyer, 40, played 10 years in the NFL and started 17 games overall. He played in 120 games for Miami, Jacksonville and Cleveland. He was most valuable as an effective special-teams player.
The Browns awarded him with a four-year contract extension worth $4.2 million before the 2004 season after he played in 15 games in 2003 and recorded a career-high 80 tackles.
He broke his right foot during a practice before the 2004 season and never played again. He was cut before the 2005 season.
He led Cleveland in special-teams tackles in 2002 and 2003 while filling the role as the unit’s captain.
“Brant Boyer has been a leader on our special teams and a key component on our defense over the last three seasons,” former Browns coach Butch Davis was quoted as saying by ESPN.com before the 2004 season.
“His status as a team captain shows the respect his teammates have for his character and work ethic. He has been a very positive influence for our young linebackers and his consistent dedication and his productivity set a great example for everyone.”
Boyer owns a hunting business in Colorado called Outwest Adventures.
“We take people hunting for anything from goose to moose,” Boyer stated.
He also co-founded the All Good Foundation, which will include a future Website: AllGoodPlanet.com.
“It’s an E-commerce Web site with over 1.2 million products and over 50,000 coupons per day,” Boyer stated. “We are expanding our product and coupon list every day and we will have lowest prices on the Internet.
“With every purchase, a portion of all proceeds will go to a charity of your choice so we can give back.”
Boyer has also announced Mountain West Conference and Big Sky college football games on TV for an independent production company.
No. 7 ROB GRONKOWSKI, tight end (2007-08)
Gronk can make this list by his name alone, but there is more to his badass image than that while at Arizona and now with the New England Patriots.
Former All-Pro tight end Jimmy Bavaro, who played under Bill Belichick when Belichick was a New York Giants assistant, had a rough-and-tough image because of his size and strength and ability to catch and block.
ESPN.com interviewed Bavaro at the end of last season, Gronkowski’s rookie year with the Patriots and Belichick, and Bavaro described the former UA player as “definitely the old-school type of tight end.”
“I was surprised he was a rookie because he was pretty polished and looked like he had been doing what he was doing for a long time,” Bavaro told ESPN.
Gronkowski, 6-6 and 265 pounds, did not miss a practice or game as a rookie, playing in 74 percent of New England’s snaps, after missing what would have been his junior season at Arizona in 2009 because of a back injury.
The play that introduced Arizona and its fans to Gronkowski’s toughness happened a month into his freshman season in 2007. His 57-yard touchdown hookup against Washington State was Gronk-esque.
Gronkowski caught the pass from Willie Tuitama at the Wazzu 31, bounced off a defender like a battering ram, almost lost his footing at the 10, and reached the end zone to give the Wildcats a 41-20 lead.
“I bring a lot competitiveness to the table, a lot of physicality (and) a lot of toughness,” Gronkowski said in his pre-draft analysis posted on YouTube (included in this blog).
Opponents did not like the idea of having to tackle Gronkowski if he caught the ball over the middle with a head of steam.
Former Oregon State safety Greg Laybourn was frank about that in an interview with The Oregonian in 2008 when the Beavers were preparing to play Arizona.
Laybourn watched film of Gronkowski drag former Oregon safeties T.J. Ward and Patrick Chung downfield after making a catch.
“The guy is a beast, there’s no way getting around it,” Laybourn told The Oregonian. “There’s not many guys that size who are that athletic.
“I guess the first thing you try to do is try to keep him from getting the ball, because if he gets the ball, he’s a load to bring down.”
THE BADASS LIST