Wildcat making most of his opportunity

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 2004

Drew Bozeman believed this, his sophomore season at Wilcox Academy, would begin just as the 2003 campaign ended.

Going into 2004, Bozeman thought he would be in the oblivion of the Wildcats’ roster.

“I played on special teams a lot last year,” Bozeman said. “I thought I’d be doing a lot of that this year. I figured I might catch a few passes and block a few people.”

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Times have definitely changed for Bozeman, and the Wilcox Academy offense is better because of the adjustment.

Wilcox Academy’s altered offense didn’t come about by plan.

Problems with turnovers and an early-season injury to starting quarterback Phillip Merryman opened the door for Bozeman, giving the young running back an opportunity to strut his stuff in the Wildcats’ backfield. So far, Bozeman has surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Bozeman’s football future began its metamorphosis in the first week of the season when Merryman sustained a knee injury against Monroe Academy. Wildcats’ coach Chris Burford moved Chase Felts to quarterback and inserted Bozeman to running back.

“I remember coach Burford told me before the South Choctaw game (in Week 2) that I would be at running back,” Bozeman said. “I figured that would be fine. He had been practicing me there a lot more.”

Bozeman conceded that he was nervous his first game, but quickly settled down after remembering who was beside and in front of him.

“I realized I was running behind (fullback) Sam Moseley,” he said. “I knew he was big and fast, and I knew we had a good offensive line.”

Since his first game, Bozeman’s confidence has continued to build. One week later, he rushed the ball 30 times for 234 yards and a touchdown for the defending AISA Class 2A state champs in their 28-14 win over Tuscaloosa Academy.

Two weeks later, Bozeman scored a pair of touchdowns in a victory over Marion Military Institute.

“All that definitely boosted my confidence,” Bozeman said. “We were coming off two losses and losing people left and right. That definitely made me run harder.”

A coach’s faith didn’t hurt, either.

“Coach Burford believed in me all along,” he said.

That belief from his coach and newly-found confidence have Bozeman aiming higher than even he believed possible.

Bozeman said his goal this season is to rush for 1,000 yards. After this season, he hopes to accomplish much more – like earning his way into college, where he wants to play football.

“Playing college football always seemed so far-fetched to me,” Bozeman said. “But I’ve always had people like coach Burford, my dad and step-dad pushing me to try.

“Just being able to see what I can do will make me try harder,” Bozeman added. “If I can earn more and more attention from college scouts as I go along, there’s no telling what can happen.”