Soccer made Evan Boehm a better OL

It's been said that while football is America's sport, fĂștbol is the world's sport.

At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, senior Evan Boehm (Lee's Summit, Mo./West) happens to like -- and be good at -- both.

In recent years, Boehm (pronounced "Bame") has emerged into one of the nation's top high school offensive linemen. Friday afternoon, Boehm was honored for his efforts as the guest-of-honor for the jersey presentation ceremony for the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game, which takes place Jan. 5 in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

"At first, I was in shock. Under Armour wanted me to play for them?" Boehm said. "Once it set in, it was one of best feelings in the world. I'm excited because I get to go and play against the best of the best."

Boehm -- in front of family, friends, teammates and a proud head coach/father in Royce Boehm -- donned the white UA jersey and thanked everyone who aided him in becoming the four-star Missouri commit. As he thanked his father, he couldn't help but be appreciative of having someone looking after his best interests at a young age.

Those interests back then didn't involve football. While many of the UA All-Americans grew up with playing football, Boehm grew up dribbling and kicking a soccer ball.

"I've been around football all my life with my dad being a coach, but my dad didn't want me to play until seventh grade," Boehm said. "I was a soccer player from the age of 5 all the way to the age of 13."

Royce Boehm explained: "That decision went back to my childhood and my parents. Your body is not ready to handle physical punishment like that as a child. I wanted him to work more on his agility. That's what's going to get you prepared physically to play the game of football."

Rather than being a football player -- and someone who would have to play up in age because of his size -- Boehm was one of the biggest and most intimidating soccer players in his area. He played forward and midfielder most of the time, but he also saw time at goalkeeper. What many don't know is that he and current William Jewell College lineman Brandon Klewer -- the tackles for West's Missouri Class 5A state-champion team last year -- were both soccer teammates growing up.

Imagine when Boehm sprinting down field to score. That feeling the young goalkeepers had then probably is similar to how smaller defensive players feel when Boehm now pulls for a block on the football field. Because of the speed, agility and footwork Boehm developed in soccer, he has become a technically sound lineman who entertained roughly 20 offers from BCS programs before choosing Missouri over the summer.

That training, in addition, helped Boehm become an all-around athlete. In addition to helping West win a state football title, Boehm was a state wrestling champion and a state track and field champion in the discus last year.

"A lot of people wanted Evan to play Pop Warner," Royce Boehm said, "but I'm glad my wife and I took that avenue with him. Evan's younger brother is doing the exact same thing."

Evan added: "Playing soccer was one of the best decisions in the world. I have all respect in the world for the soccer players at my school. I know what they go through."

As Boehm gets ready for the UA game, he also is excited about where he is playing. St. Petersburg is the home to Tropicana Field, which his grandfather, Russ Cline, had a major part in building and transforming into the slanted-domed entity it is today. The stadium originally was known as the Florida Suncoast Dome.

"That's a really neat deal seeing that my grandpa was one of the founders," Boehm said. "He knows that place. I'm just glad that we will now have something with that, with him building it and me getting to play in it."

Boehm continued: "I'm just blessed to get this opportunity. I enjoyed the whole presentation and the entire experience. I'm glad I was able to be a part of it. Now, I'm ready to play in Florida."

Damon Sayles covers recruiting in the Midlands for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com.