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View from the O-Zone: Big Bo on staff for a week


MOBILE, Ala. – This isn't an audition. Not really – at least not yet.

That's not the way the big man with the familiar face, big name and even bigger reputation sees his role with the Jaguars at the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl this week.

Tony Boselli wasn't in Mobile angling for the Jaguars' offensive line job or any other offensive line coaching job in the NFL, for that matter.

"That's not what this is about," Boselli said this week.

But Boselli is in Mobile working with the Jaguars' staff, and because he is maybe the best player in franchise history, and because he is prominent on all Jaguars broadcasts and pretty much every airwave and billboard in Jacksonville, that's worth a few lines on this website.

So, what is Boselli doing here?

He's coaching, that's what. And to watch him work with the South offensive line as a Senior-Bowl-week-only member of the Jaguars' staff is to watch a guy having fun – and a guy with a future in this if he so desires. He's also a guy who has the pedigree, and a guy who clearly knows enough about what he's doing, to reach these players … even if their knowledge of his career is …

Well, a little fuzzy.

Boselli, a five-time Pro Bowl selection from 1996-2000, was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft. He was the first draft selection in Jaguars history. He was a dominant player with Hall-of-Fame credentials even if he inexcusably doesn't have a bust in Canton, Ohio. He's in the College Football Hall of Fame.

University of Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio? Well, he was duly impressed.

"He's an awesome player with an awesome track record," Kouandjio said. "I didn't know he would be here. Shoot, I'm just happy to have somebody like that here to have as a resource."

Boselli spent part of one practice early this week in the face and ear of Kouandjio and spent a whole lot of the same session in the face and ear of Louisiana State tackle La'el Collins, perhaps the most NFL-ready left tackle in Mobile this week.

He coached like he played, with intensity, enthusiasm and love for the game – and the position. Those were the things that made Boselli an all-time great – and a prominent name in football circles.

But Boselli's pre-NFL Draft process was 20 years ago. Because that means the players he coached this week were preschoolers when he was a rookie and still very, very young when he retired, it was fair to ask if they knew much about this guy coaching them.

"I recognized his name right off the bat," Kouandjio said.

Collins recognized the name – though he was a bit unclear on the details.

"He played at Illinois," Collins said.

Well, Southern California.

"USC, USC …" Collins said quickly. "I was thinking about somebody else."

Boselli laughed at the Collins story, and said he had a similar moment Tuesday when telling a player a story involving Jackie Slater, a Hall-of-Fame left tackle with the Rams from 1976-1995.

"They're all looking at me," Boselli said and recalled the blank looks on their faces. "I said, 'You know who Jackie Slater is, right? One of them said, 'Oh, yeah, the surfer.'"

Kelly Slater is a 43-year-old surfer who – though prominent – was not the subject of Boselli's story.

I'm like, 'The surfer …' he said, shaking his head. "I said, 'Please tell me you know who (Hall of Fame left tackle) Anthony Munoz is? And they did."

Boselli paused.

"Or they said they did," he said. "Whether they did or not, I don't know."

Boselli laughed at the story, and he was smiling a lot this week. He was, after all, doing something he loved. Though Boselli is new to coaching at this level, he's not new to the profession. He has coached his sons, Adam and Andrew, in recent seasons, and said he doesn't want to coach full-time until they are out of (Episcopal) high school in two years. But this experience? This chance to coach players temptingly close to the dream he lived 20 years ago?

"It was great," he said. "It was a lot of fun. I love it. The one thing about football is it's the same at every level; the players are just better because they've done it longer. It's fun to work with (interim offensive line coach) Luke (Butkus) and (offensive assistant) Matt (Applebaum). I'm just helping them out and learning from them as well."

And what he was doing wasn't unusual. It was, in fact, quite in the spirit of Senior Bowl week, which in addition to being a job fair for college players also is the preeminent annual convention for not only pretty much anyone in the NFL but for pretty much anyone wanting to be in the NFL.

Former Jaguars fullback Greg Jones also assisted the South this week. Former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was seen handshaking and networking after Wednesday practice. Former Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen was in Mobile this week doing the same, and they were far from alone.

As for Boselli, whether he coaches in the NFL someday remains to be seen, though you get the idea that the thought is appealing. As of now, as of this week, he just wanted to do something he loved and have fun doing it.

To watch the big man from Illi… – er, Southern California – this week was to watch him do just that.

Photos from the third day of Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, AL.

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