Utah Blaze WR Aaron Boone Inspiring Children to Dream Big
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Blaze wide receiver Aaron Boone remembers when he was a bright-eyed youngster sitting on the front row listening to BYU football coach LaVell Edwards speak. The legendary coach made the journey from Provo, Utah, to Fillmore, Utah, to inspire kids to dream big.
"It gave me words of encouragement and motivation to think 'Yes, I'm here in a small town but I can dream as big as I want and accomplish anything I set my mind to if I'm willing to work'," he said.
Some 20 years later, Boone is still living the dream. During his free time he passes along the same message Edwards gave him by visiting schools, civic groups, church groups, and those suffering in hospitals.
"For me to go and talk to (kids) rejuvenates me and motivates me to do a little more," said Boone, who also looked up to Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Walter Payton.
"I just don't say things to the kids about dreaming big and following their dreams, I'm trying to live it myself. I'm dreaming big and I think it's important," he said. "You can't stop dreaming. I have accomplished many of (my football dreams), but I know there is a lot more to life than football."
Boone recently completed a dream season with the Blaze as he and two teammates made history by recording more than 1,500 yards, 100 receptions and 20 touchdowns each in the same year.
Boone finished with 135 receptions (third in the league) for 1,527 yards and 23 touchdowns, while Huey Whittaker had 126 catches for a team-high 1,541 yards and 32 touchdowns, and J.J. McKelvey finished with 121 catches for 1,533 yards and a team-high 38 touchdowns.
"It's a pretty amazing accomplishment if you think of all the years people have played professional football - both Arena and the NFL - to think that it is the first time it's been done is pretty remarkable," he said.
"To have your name next to a couple of other good friends and teammates as going down in history (with the record) is pretty amazing."
Boone prepped at Millard High School (Fillmore, Utah) where he was a three-year letter winner in football, a two-year starter at quarterback and defensive end. Additionally, he was a senior team captain and an all-state quarterback.
As a redshirt freshman at Snow Junior College in Ephraim, Utah, Boone recorded 33 catches for 645 yards and six touchdowns. One year later, he was an NJCAA First-Team All-American for the Badgers after hauling in 81 catches for 1,505 yards and 18 touchdowns. He earned a scholarship to play football at the University of Kentucky.
In his first year with the Wildcats, he recorded 18 catches for 268 yards and six touchdowns. In 2002, the year the Wildcats went 7-5, he tallied 41 receptions for 706 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the nation in receptions/touchdowns ratio (min. 10 TDs) with a touchdown catch in every 4.1 receptions.
Boone spent time with the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Carolina Panthers, and he also played two seasons in NFL Europe for the Berlin Thunder.
Boone signed with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League in 2006, and that same year he also played for the Kansas City Brigade where he earned AFL All-Rookie Team honors and was the Brigade's Rookie of the Year. With the Brigade, he recorded 66 catches for 748 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In his first season with the Blaze in 2007, Boone recorded 32 catches for 420 yards and nine touchdowns.
Boone uses his football history as proof when he speaks to kids about dreaming big and accepts the charge of being a role model.
"We've been definitely blessed as athletes to be put in this position. Unlike other stars that don't want to be role models, I think you are regardless of how you look at it," he said.
"There are kids running around with your jersey, your name, and the organization's name and I think you have a duty (to be a role model)."
While fulfilling that responsibility, Boone is rewarded as well.
"There is nothing more humbling than to walk into a hospital room and be able to visit someone and lift their spirits and cheer them up a little bit," he said. "At the same time, it's a time for me to sit back and remember how blessed I am and my family is."
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