In life you learn what you encounter. You learn through your school. You learn from your family and friends. Boye Mafe had a family who made learning a priority, a family priority. The family had endured a culture change along with a sacrifice long before Boye was born. They had a belief in hard work, doing things the right way, and strong family values.
Boye’s father, Wale, emigrated from Nigeria in the late 1970’s to America to live the American dream which meant working to achieve a successful business. He went to college in Minnesota, during that time Boye’s mother, Bola, joined Wale in America leaving friends and family behind in Nigeria. Wale graduated with an accounting degree then opened his own business. Bola, who was a seamstress and a designer, opened a Nigerian based fashion company that sold garments around the country.
The Mafe family had roots in the Nigerian (Yoruba) culture long before their children were born. The area (Yorubaland) was rich in culture with a diverse population. The area is home to a wide variety of societal groups. There were more than 256 dialects spoken in this region.
The Mafe household embraced their new Minnesota home but wanted their family to hold strong to their beliefs in culture, education and hard work.
Boye was the youngest of five children. He was a tough kid who would play to win against his elders but usually was overmatched. He still fought as hard as he could.
At a very great cost, the family sent each child to a Nigerian boarding school for a year to learn culture, education, and dedication. Boye being the youngest didn’t go until he was in middle school which was a culture shock and a world changing event for him.
His older brother Dami said, “Going there and being in boarding school, it straightens you out. It puts you on the right path. I thank my parents for that. It showed us that the time for games are over. You have to get serious about your life and everything you are doing with it. [Boye] really changed when he came back.” His sister Tayo said about Boye, “I think when you leave and you’re in a place that’s vastly different, you have more of a worldly mindset. He’s always been an old man and an old spirit ever since he’s been little, but it was even more.” Boye also had a physical change during his time away.
“He had a very extreme growth spurt during that time,” Tayo said. “He went from me being able to put my elbow on his shoulder, to him putting his elbow on my head.”
Boye’s entire family was athletic playing in many sports. They loved to watch soccer, but it took time for the family to gain an interest in American football. Once they gained an interest it soon became a passion. Boye’s older brother Dami was a running back who played at Minnesota st at Mankato. Boye was a high school star who was over 6’ 3” but weighed 225 lbs as a senior. He played in high school at Minnetonka, Minnesota, so he wasn’t highly recruited with only 6 scholarship offers.
Boye still had to grow into his body. He was thin for his height so he redshirted his first year at Minnesota. In his first 3 seasons in college he played in 29 games but not as a frontline starter. As a senior he started 9 of 13 games making some eyepopping plays but also having some struggles. He is still learning the nuances for the game. He gained 30 lbs of muscle in his time in college as he had to transform his body from a track type into a power and speed type.
Early on you can see the tremendous athleticism as he runs down the Michigan QB
This is a three man rush with Boye in a two point stance waiting to turn on the juice. He is not real big, but watch as he turns speed into power as he rocks back a lineman who probably outweighs him by 80 lbs. He has very good length (33 3/8”) so he can lockout the big tackle from getting to his chest. Once the QB (who is seeing ghosts) flees the pocket Boye shows the great speed to easily run down the fast QB and make a sure tackle.
Boye has evolved into a better power player and will need to continue his building that power if he want to be anything more than a subpackage player in passing situations.
Here he again turns speed into power as he comes of the line fast, but he combines it with a good leverage move as he comes low to high on the contact. See how on contact the big tackle’s pads go back and up which hurts his reach. The key here, though, is the great acceleration off the snap. He is able to get on the tackle before he can get proper slide depth to where he can square his target up. Boye is almost using a “half man” technique on him as he rocks him back then slides by on the outside.
He then is able to reach then grab the QB again with the help of great length along with strength of hands. Once he has control Boye leans backward. He lets his feet basically swing around his body using his entire weight to make the tackle for him.
We have seen speed, acceleration, and length work for Boye, but he also has great quickness combined with athleticism. Here he combines both those two elements to make a huge TFL on the running back.
This what I call “eyepopping.” It is a full length jab step to the outside causing the tackle to overset to the edge. Then comes a quick and athletic counter back inside that gives him an alley he could drive a bus through to make the tackle. The left tackle would have been lucky if he got a fingernail on Boye. You can see the left tackle look back in stunned amazement on how Boye was able to make that move.
This next clip is a nice speed and hands move by Boye, but much of this sack lays on the back of the tackle who for some reason plays this passing down like he was a guard by not going immediately into a slide step then also leaving his hands low without using a punch.
By leaving his hands so low it is inviting Boye to do just what he did which is a two handed chop that knocks the hands down and leaves a gaping hole around the arc directly to the QB It is also nice that Boye’s first contact on the gab of the QB is directly on the ball which causes a possible turnover.
On this next play Boye is playing as a left defensive tackle in a four man front. He wants to use his quickness, but he neglects to shoot the gap and ends up playing too high so he is completely stoned on the play.
Yet he never gives up. He keeps his eyes in the backfield so when the QB decides to run he is able to disengage then run the play down. He comes from the far hash to run down the Auburn QB who is a quick/fast runner with ease just before the sideline. This was also a very violent tackle that was made to send a message and possibly force a turnover.
This next play is a three man rush, but for some reason they leave Boye by himself on the outside against the tackle. This is the start of the evolution of Boye as he works a nice push-pull maneuver at the top of the arc.
The push-pull is actually a technique that is difficult to make on the move. Generally it’s used in the trenches where both players are in close contact with each other. Here Boye uses the move while in motion before he gets to the level of the QB. Once he gets by he has a straight shot at his prey. The chase is short with the QB having no chance at escape.
The continued evolution as here Boye is using a stutter step approach where he is feigning a move inside then quickly moves outside for the sack. What he wants to do is get the tackle to hesitate and stop his feet if even for a split second. Boye is far quicker than the big tackle so as soon as he slows his pace Boye is able to rocket to the outside before the tackle can move his feet quickly enough.
Sometimes it only takes a lean inside or a mini step to get the hesitation of the tackle, but whatever works is golden. You can also see that Boye uses his hands well here to free himself off the blocke. Then he comes in chopping down on the ball while making the tackle to cause the fumble.
If you are a tackle that is slow in your slide step, Boye is the last guy you want to see. With the quickness, speed, and some “bendy” aspects of his game he is a danger anytime he is QB hunting. Here against Nebraska it was a long day for this left tackle.
On this play Boye actually goes behind the QB. It’s something he tries hard not to do. He is able to double back the attack the QB by first attacking the ball. He knocks the ball free then looks to chase it down if he can.
Later in that same game that same tackle is unable to guard the arc when Boye comes to the edge. He uses the chop on the arms to free himself and make the play.
He has worked on his hands quite a bit, but there is much more work to be done. He can help himself with a wider variety of moves. As a smaller end he needs some great counters if his first attempt is stalled. Here he takes down the QB who you can tell is fiercely trying to hold onto the ball and save himself the embarrassment of another fumble.
Here he is later in his career. I show you this now to compare the overall size and power he developed in his years in Minnesota. He still has the same athleticism speed, but he is a lot stronger. He will need to continue to add strength in the NFL.
You can see that even with the increased size he still maintains that great burst and 1st step quickness. He nearly beats the tackle around the edge then stops. He throws the tackle out of the way then slides back in for the tackle. There are not a whole lot of technical advancements in this clip, but his move worked on a 3rd and 7 play.
Boye Mafe is an edge player who is incredibly athletic with an explosive first step, superior speed, power, and exceptional character. He comes from a great family. He is very dedicated to his craft and willing to learn and be coached. He has quick feet that can help change direction and turn an outside rush to an inside counter in a heartbeat. He is too fast for lumbering ends to be able to protect the edge from his assault. He is powerful for his size. He can bull rush like someone 30 lbs heavier. He has strong hands with the ability to grasp ball carriers and wrestle them down with ease. His hands are also weapons against edge defenders as he can chop away at the tree limbs of those huge men and get them out of his way. He has good length (not great) but gets to the edge then knocks the hands of the tackle down then just explodes to the QB. When he times up the snap he can beat many tackles around the corner with just speed. He can rush from either side of the field. He never quits and is relentless in pursuit always looking to run down a play.
He is still a very raw player with some rudimentary skills in some areas. He will at times hesitate; thinking and not reacting to the play. He is a tough kid who loves the game. He will go as far as his work ethic and ability to learn will take him. He reminds me of Simeon Rice when he was coming out of college. If he is even half as good he will be worth a high pick. If he develops he could end up being the best edge rusher in this great class of edge rushers. He has some of the best traits, but can he turn those traits into abilities?
That’s what I think.
What do you think?