For a decade now, Evan Boehm had his heart set on becoming an NFL football player.
That dream crystallized after his seventh-grade football season, and he wasn’t shy about telling his parents, Royce and Teresa, that was his goal.
Royce, who retired in November after 12 seasons as Lee’s Summit West’s football coach, was supportive, but he knew the odds were stacked against his son.
“We’re like, ‘OK, but the percentage out there is like 1 to 3 percent of high school kids are going to play in the NFL,’ ” Royce said. “Did we crush his dreams? No, we didn’t crush his dreams. But did I know as a dad that the percentage was very minimal? Yeah, of course, I did.”
It’s actually far lower than even Royce realized — a miniscule 0.08 percent, according to NCAA estimates.
Before the weekend is finished, though, Evan Boehm, a Lee’s Summit West graduate who started all 52 games in his Missouri career, is expected to defy those odds.
Virtually every draft analyst projects Boehm, an offensive lineman, as a mid- or late-round pick in the NFL Draft, which kicked off with the first round Thursday night in Chicago and continues through Saturday.
Many, including ESPN analyst Todd McShay, think Boehm has the potential to start in the NFL.
“I’m blessed to be where I’m at and blessed to have the opportunity that I have,” said Evan, who battled through a severe ankle sprain the first half of his senior season. “To hear my name called among those 300 kids, that’s big-time, and that’s awesome. It’s a great situation to be part of.”
If Evan is selected among 253 picks spread across seven rounds and three days, Boehm will become the first draft pick from Lee’s Summit West and third overall from Lee’s Summit in NFL history.
He’ll join former Missouri linebacker Bobby Bell Jr., a Lee’s Summit High graduate who was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round with 91st overall pick in the 1984 draft, and Kansas halfback Forrest Griffith, another Lee’s Summit graduate who was chosen 59th overall in the fifth round by the New York Giants in 1950.
Royce said he realized Evan was probably going to get this opportunity after the Tigers’ 2014 season when former coach Gary Pinkel submitted his name to the NFL for an early-entry evaluation. Evan said it started to sink in for him a few months later.
“My junior year — after Mitch (Morse) got drafted only one year after Justin (Britt) got drafted, and seeing that Mizzou name is out there as far as offensive linemen — that’s when I was like, ‘OK, this dream could come true,’ ” he said. “That’s when I started pushing myself even more.’”
Britt was a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seahawks, and Morse was a second-round pick last spring by the Chiefs.
Evan started 12 games at left guard as a freshman and all 40 during the last three seasons at center, including two alongside Britt and three alongside Morse. He is the only player in Mizzou football history to start every game beginning with his true freshman season.
The Boehms will watch Friday’s draft coverage at the home of Evan’s paternal grandparents, then host a few family and friends Saturday at Evan’s parents’ home.
He has heard from his agent, Tom Condon, that he’s a candidate to be drafted anywhere between the second and fifth rounds. That sounds just fine with Evan.
“I’m going to love wherever I go and have fun wherever I’m at,” he said. “It’s going to be a great time. If they want me, I want to be there and go show them what I’m made of and earn a starting spot at that place.”