Missouri senior Evan Boehm has started all 42 games in his college career.
That mark is tied for sixth in Tigers history, but Boehm has 51 consecutive starts — achievable on Nov. 21 against Tennessee at Memorial Stadium — in his sights.
Carl Gettis (2007-10), Adam Spieker (2004-07) and Martin Rucker (2004-07) currently share Missouri’s record for consecutive starts at 50.
“It’s just a pride factor,” Boehm said. “You just take pride in what you do and how you do it. Not a lot of people have done this, and it’s hard to do. It’s hard to start 42 consecutive football games.”
Sometimes it’s painful, too, as Boehm proved last week at Arkansas State when he played despite a severe high ankle sprain, which kept him from practicing throughout the week. He studied during treatment sessions to make sure he could both stay on course in the classroom and be ready to play.
“I got voted team captain for a reason, and I’ve got to step up and prove that to my guys that I can battle through a little adversity myself and come out and play football,” Boehm said.
Boehm, who is one of the best offensive linemen in the nation and a top prospect at center for the 2016 NFL Draft, acknowledged that his sprained right ankle hurt during the game and was disappointed with how it affected his performance against the Red Wolves.
“The bad snaps I had this week were because of me focusing on how to step with my ankle and how to go and move with the ankle instead of just focusing on getting the ball back to (starting quarterback) Maty (Mauk),” Boehm said. “It upset me a lot, and I sent a text to (offensive line) coach (A.J.) Ricker right after the game just apologizing to him and saying that I’ll be better this week and I’ll learn how to overcome it.”
Boehm’s fellow senior captain, safety Ian Simon, marvels at the talent and durability that Boehm has shown to reach 42 consecutive starts.
“That record is something important to him, and it would be important to me, too, for sure,” said Simon, who has started 19 consecutive games. “That’s very impressive, and it speaks a lot to the type of player he is. Coming at it as a true freshman and not missing a game for going on four years now, that’s hard to do.”
Missouri doesn’t often celebrate these types of individual achievements, but coach Gary Pinkel doesn’t see Boehm’s attempt to break the start record as something motivated by selfishness.
“It isn’t about him, it’s about him helping our football team,” Pinkel said. “That’s really what it’s about, and I think it’s great that he has that attitude. … He wants to make a great contribution, and when he leaves here he wants to say that ‘I played so many games.”
Of course, Boehm doesn’t want to do anything to hurt the team either.
“It’s important, because not a lot of people of done it, but at the same time it’s not important, because I’m just out here trying to help my team win football games,” Boehm said. “If helping the team win a football game is me sitting out and having them do what they need to do, that’s fine, so be it. But if it’s me being in there and playing each and every down, then so be it.”
Boehm planned to practice more than he did last week and has no plans to miss the Connecticut game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Asked what it would take to keep him out of the Missouri lineup, like maybe a broken leg, Boehm said: “Nothing. I’ll play. I want to play. I’m a competitor. I love to compete. It’s going to take a whole lot more than high-sprained ankle to keep me out of the football game.”
Most consecutive starts by a MU football player
1. (tie) Carl Gettis
1. (tie) Martin Rucker
1. (tie) Adam Spieker
4. Brad Smith
5. A.J. Ricker
6. (tie) Evan Boehm
6. (tie) Rob Riti
6. (tie) Mike Bedosky