Oct. 11, 2013
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - What started out as a temporary assignment now appears to be permanent for Saluki offensive lineman Corey Boemer.
Head coach Dale Lennon said the reigning Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week will likely hold on to the starting job at left guard, even after injured Nate Haremza returns.
Boemer began the season as the team's "sixth-best" lineman, meaning he was the next-man-up if someone got hurt. Sure enough, injuries to several players have allowed Boemer the opportunity to start all six games, playing both tackle and guard, and he's in no mood to relinquish his spot. The offensive line is starting to gel, according to Lennon, in large part due to the play of Boemer, who is quite mobile for a 6-foot-4, 290-pound interior lineman.
Southern Illinois University has always felt like the perfect fit for Boemer. While he was choosing which college to attend, his cousin and best friend Bryan Boemer was already at SIU on his way to becoming one of the greatest centers in school history.
"I had been down here when I was in high school watching (Bryan) play," Corey said. "I knew some of the older guys who he lived with. It felt like home right away. He and I were always close, and it was more of a brother-brother relationship than cousins, so it felt like home just being around him."
The two are often mistaken for brothers, but neither seems to mind the misconception.
"When people mistake us for brothers, sometimes I don't even correct them because that's how close our relationship has been," Corey said.
Once Corey arrived on campus, Bryan, who won the Rimington Award for the best FCS center in the nation as a senior in 2011, was always there to aid his development.
Corey has experience playing anywhere on the line aside from center and doesn't have a strong preference as to where the coaches decide to utilize him.
"I feel pretty comfortable everywhere," Corey said. "I think my footwork is a little better on the right side because I played on the right side my whole life before I came to college, but my first two years here, I was always on the left side. Really, I've adapted to any position. There's not much difference."
Corey said his biggest improvement heading into this season was not with his body, but with his head.
"It's been mental more than anything," Corey said. "Just being more focused and getting my head in the playbook, not having doubts and making sure I know what my blocks are."
Corey has also received helpful instruction on technique from Bill O'Boyle, who is in his first year as the offensive line coach for the Salukis.
"He's huge on technique," Corey said. "He really breaks down every part of the O-line, and he's really big on finishing your block. He reiterates that every day in film. Make sure you finish. Keep driving your legs. Finish, finish, finish."
In addition to the coaching staff, Corey still gets plenty of advice from Bryan, who now lives in St. Louis and has attended as many Saluki games as possible in the two years since his graduation.
"We text pretty consistently and talk throughout the week," Corey said. "He always gives a little feedback. He and my dad are probably two of my biggest critics."