High School Sports

Playing with chip on shoulder motivates senior running back, surprising Providence

Providence High running back Julian Boddie is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior who has rushed for 650 yards and scored seven touchdowns in the Panthers’ 3-1 start. Providence will get a big test Friday night at perennial power Butler, which is ranked No. 6 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll.
Providence High running back Julian Boddie is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior who has rushed for 650 yards and scored seven touchdowns in the Panthers’ 3-1 start. Providence will get a big test Friday night at perennial power Butler, which is ranked No. 6 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Ever since he was in middle school, Providence High running back Julian Boddie said he has been underestimated.

He was asked to play behind others then, and again when he entered high school. He said he always won the starting job. Now, he’s a leader of a team that he says is underestimated.

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Providence High's Julian Boddie, makes a reception during practice on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Boddie, a senior running back, has the Panthers off to one of their best starts ever -- and a huge game Friday with Butler. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

“We love proving everybody wrong,” Boddie said. “You know the stereotype of Providence, that we’re a smart school and we can’t be good at sports. I refuse to believe that and the team feels the same way.”

Providence was 3-8 last season but is 3-1 heading into Friday’s game at Butler (1-1), ranked No. 6 in the Sweet 16. Boddie, 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, has run 114 times for 650 yards and seven touchdowns. He is well on his way to topping his 2016 total of 1,048 yards and 18 scores.

“Man, he’s kind of your old-school running back,” Providence coach Brad Bowles said of the senior. “You can give him the ball 30 times and he’ll carry it just as well on his 30th carry as his first.

“And if you don’t (use your arms) when you try to tackle him, he’ll bounce off you. You may get a great lick on him, and he may feel it, but he’s got great body balance and he’s hard to take down.”

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Providence High's Julian Boddie, finds running room during practice on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Boddie, a senior running back, has the Panthers off to one of their best starts ever -- and a huge game Friday with Butler. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Boddie, who has 4.6-second 40-yard dash speed, doesn’t have any college offers, but he said he’s drawn interest from William & Mary, Furman and N.C. Central, among others. He has a few more months to impress college coaches -- and to prove that he and the s Panthers are better than the old expectations.

“I play with more of a controlled anger,” Boddie said. “It’s not super physical, but about knowing when to turn it on. I always feel under-appreciated. Everybody doesn’t see it, and I’ve got to make them see it somehow.

“I feel like, in my eyes, I’m one of the best in the area and can be one of the best in the state. When I see all the stuff on Twitter and TV, I just know those guys are not better than me, or my team. Man, I’ve just got that chip on my shoulder. I’ve had it since I was young.”

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