Gophers interior offensive lineman Nathan Boe learned by watching his friends compete and lead. Boe, a sixth-year offensive lineman, soaked up valuable advice from many former teammates, including Jared Weyler, John Michael Schmitz and Conner Olson.
Now, as Schmitz prepares for his rookie season with the New York Giants, Boe is carrying the torch toward for Minnesota.
“There is a long list of people that I’ve learned from,” Boe said during Gopher Football Media Day. “Talking about Jared Weyler my freshman year in 2018. He knew the playbook in and out. He probably could have coached. He taught a lot to me and John. There’s Conner Olson too. He’s still one of my best friends. I think all of those guys I’ve learned bits and pieces from of how to be the best leader and football player as possible.”
Boe is building his own mentality around the toughness, work ethic and leadership skills that Schmitz displayed. He knows those traits will be key as he steps into a critical leadership role for the Gophers.
“His work ethic every single day [is something I took away from John Michael]. Being a leader. He wasn’t always the most vocal guy, but he always led with his presence,” Boe said. “The way he plays football just screams out loud to you. He’s finishing people to the ground every play. As one of my best friends, I’ve learned from him every single day for five years and he’s impacted me a ton over my years here.”
Boe is already impressed with the new mix of leadership styles in the offensive line room. He said many different voices are leading the charge as Minnesota prepares for the 2023 season.
“I think it’s been a little different this year just because last year everyone talked about John Michael and he was a great leader. But this year, I feel like it’s been a little more spread out between me, Quinn Carroll and Aireontae and even JJ Guedet and Karter Shaw. We’ve all kind of led together,” Boe said. “I mean, we’ve all played with each other for four or five years now. I’ve known Quinn since high school and we’ve always stayed in touch. Awesome teammate, awesome leader.”
Despite the departure of many key leaders, Boe is already noticing a deep connection within the team. He credits head coach P.J. Fleck and the staff for consistently creating that type of environment.
“[Summer workouts have] gone really well. I think they’ve been hard and I think a lot of guys will speak to this too, I feel like we’re the most connected team we’ve ever had here,” Boe said. “I know guys keep saying that every year, but that’s a testament to Coach Fleck and the coaching staff here. They keep changing their best and we do things different every single year to make us better.”
Boe believes Minnesota’s annual roster transitions go smoothly because of the team’s mentorship program. For example, when Nathan arrived in 2018, he was paired up with former Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan. Boe said Morgan’s mentorship eased his transition from high school to college.
“We have a really strong mentorship program. When a freshman comes in, they are paired up with someone right away. I take that mentorship program really seriously because when I first got here, I early-enrolled and Tanner Morgan was my mentor and [Tanner] remains one of my best friends,” Boe said. “He drove me to class a couple times in the winter and I had no idea where to go for class. We do a great job with that, so I think that really helps out bonding. As an offensive line, we’re hanging out together all the time.”
Boe, who is entering his sixth year at the University of Minnesota, already has two undergraduate degrees. On top of that, the Gophers’ interior offensive lineman will complete his master’s degree this fall.
“I’m in grad school right now chasing a master’s in sports management. I have my undergraduate degrees already done and I’ve had a couple internships. I put myself in a place where I can graduate with my master’s in the fall,” Boe said. “And I know that means a lot to my parents. My dad went to law school, so he always sees a lot of value in upper academics. It makes me proud, it makes my parents proud, as well as also helping out my teammates.”
On the field, Boe is looking forward to all of the new challenges and opportunties on the horizon. He ultimately knows the entire offensive line room must maintain a high standard of excellence each day.
“I think year after year, the pressure is always on the offensive line. And I think Coach Callahan talks about it. It’s like, hey, it’s just a great opportunity,” Boe said. “It’s just day after day, stacking days on top of each other and getting better every single day. And doing everything we can to help out the running backs because they have one of the hardest jobs in football.”
As Gophers training camp approaches, all of the starting interior offensive line jobs are up for grabs. Boe has past experience at guard or center, so Minnesota could explore a few different combinations over the next month. However, no matter which position Boe plays this season, he is focused on setting the tone.
“[I want opponents to say] holy crap, that guy is tough…we never got to his head, [he] never lost his cool,” Boe said. “A lot of times, people are losing their cool and I think it’s just you’ve got to stay close to your fellow teammates and stay together. You’ve got to be tough.”
More importantly, when the Lakeville native runs onto the field this season, he will be living out a childhood dream.
“As my last year, this is something I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve always wanted to play football here for the Gophers. It’s all I’ve been looking forward to,” Boe said. “I’m just really excited and blessed to be able to play with these guys this year and kind of earn leadership roles.”
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