Lee Boshes is doing what most guys could only wish to do. And you’ve probably never heard of him.
The Deerfield, Ill. native is a sophomore transfer student from the University of Michigan. That much is fairly common. What isn’t common is the rest of his story.
Boshes was enrolled at Michigan as a lacrosse player, and transferred Winter Quarter this year to Northwestern as a communications studies major. But he’s also now a bona fide member of the Northwestern Wildcats football team as a wide receiver. You wouldn’t know it — at the time of writing, Northwestern athletics’ official homepage doesn’t even have a profile on him. It wouldn’t contain much.
Boshes has never played organized football in his life.
“I’d always sort of dreamed of playing it,” he says. “Until about junior or senior year of high school, I was really small and my mom wasn’t a big fan of me playing football.”
The route to Northwestern’s practice field went through TCBoost, a training facility in Northbrook, Ill., which has trained the likes of Corey Wootton and Andrew Brewer in preparation for professional careers. Boshes entered a program there specifically for lacrosse, and trained under Jay Hooten, a Northwestern strength coach. Football, as Boshes puts it, was nothing more than a pipe dream.
“One day after my freshman year, we were talking and joking around and all of a sudden I said, ‘Hey, why don’t I try to play football?’” he says. “But [Hooten] was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ So we got really intense about it. I thought it was unrealistic at first.”
The two made a recruiting video with clips of Boshes-in-training, and intended to send it to Ivy League schools. Northwestern, however, got a hold of it and offered Boshes a walk-on spot with the team. The combination seemed logical — Northwestern had a Communications Studies program and was an academic fit, with a rising football program to boot. That video never made it into any other school’s mailbox.
Boshes credits Hooten for much of the support, likening him to a brother, and now a key part of Boshes’ experience here at Northwestern.
Standing at around 5-foot-10, Boshes figured that he’d be a defensive back after playing defense in lacrosse, but his story took yet another surprising turn.
“I was playing catch with [freshman quarterback] Trevor [Siemian] and they saw me run a couple of routes and they liked what they saw,” Boshes says.
So, thus was Lee Boshes, wide receiver.
The transition to football has had more than a few bumps in the road, as lacrosse and football don’t completely crossover.
“It’s a lot of movements that are foreign to me,” Boshes says. “A lot of sinking your hips and cuts and getting in the right positions and running the right routes, getting your feet in the right direction and control of your body that are different from what lacrosse was.”
He credits his fellow ‘Cats for helping him get on the same page as the rest of the squad, another sign that he’s fitting right in.
“I sometimes have to take a step back and remember that these guys have been playing for a lot longer than I have, but it’s an interesting acclimation period,” he says. “There’s a lot of terminology, but it’s all about just going at everything with a sort of positive outlook. There’s so many plays that it’s going to take awhile to learn them and learn the concepts, so I just try to do a little bit every day, try to watch and learn.”
As for adjusting academically, Boshes hasn’t had a problem, either — he received an A grade in each of his classes last quarter.
“I’m saying this, on the record, that Northwestern is a better school than Michigan,” he says with a grin. “Academically, it’s good, it’s fun.”
But as for where he sees himself down the road with the team, Boshes doesn’t fancy any delusions.
“You have to start small and think a little bigger,” he says. “I’m not gonna say that I’m Randy Moss, but I want to learn and I want to develop. I want to keep working and see how it goes because you’re realistic in one sense, but on the other hand, I work as hard as I can every single day, coming out here, and I want to end up progressing, but it’s just small, small steps.”