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6 things to know about Ben Boulware, Clemson’s full-volume NFL sleeper

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The national champ’s defensive leader might not be drafted, but he’ll make noise wherever he lands.

CFP National Championship Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

You notice former Clemson product Ben Boulware on the football field. Whether he’s ranking No. 3 in the ACC in tackles or drawing attention to himself in other ways, he stands out.

Here are six things to know about the engine behind college football’s most recent national championship defense.

No. 1: Orange runs through his veins.

To understand the 2017 NFL draft linebacker prospect is to understand Clemson. His sister attends the school, and his brother played baseball for the Tigers. He’s from nearby Anderson, 20 miles away, and is from a unique family that draws strength from its youngest member.

No. 2: The Tigers’ defense drew their strength from Boulware en route to a national title.

He plays with pride and passion, and it showed after the Tigers won.

And after he ended up being the defensive MVP of the 2016 title game (with six tackles, two for losses, and a pass breakup), his victory speech on the field sounded like a WWE-worthy promo.

He was the defense’s clear leader, both on the field ...

... and off.

3. But sometimes that passion gets him into hot water, earning a handful of personal fouls.

He suplexed one opponent ...

... and put a chokehold on the eventual Heisman winner Lamar Jackson last season.

"I was just trying to pull him down," Boulware said after the game, via ESPN's David Hale. "If he thought it was a dirty play, I definitely apologize. I was just trying to get him down."

No. 4: Of course, there is also the beard.

He didn’t always have it. Before the 2015 season’s title game, Boulware’s chin was clean-shaven.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Media Day Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

A year later, I spoke to Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee, who was very much here to talk about Boulware’s new look.

“First of all, let’s talk about Ben beard,” he said. “I don’t know what he’s got going on. He’s got a little patch of hair up there. He got more hair in his beard than he have on his own head. I feel like he oughta trim that up and put it up top a little bit.”

Boulware’s maintenance only recently expanded to include beard oil. Back in December, he spoke about being called out by a cashier for having dry whiskers.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Media Day Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5: There is also the tattoo.

Inked after Clemson won that title game over Alabama, it’s got a special message to those who doubted.

He knew the pain of getting this close to the title, and the second go-around, Boulware made sure to do all he could to bring it home. From right before Clemson’s championship season started:

No. 6: His attitude is coming to an professional field near you, whether he’s picked or not.

Boulware’s undersized for the NFL at only six feet tall, in the 9th percentile among all NFL combine linebackers. His only above-average combine drill was the three-cone.

He might not get drafted, but look for him to pop up on a roster this summer anyway. Boulware might not be a major factor in an NFL linebacking corps immediately, but special teams could be his meal ticket on the next level.