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WR Chris Bocage impresses in Blaze debut

By KSL.com | Posted - May 25, 2011 at 1:01 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Blaze WR Chris Bocage (5-10, 190, Southern California) scored four touchdowns in his Blaze debut last Saturday night, but touchdowns weren't the primary highlight of the game for him.

Bocage signed with the Blaze only days before their game versus the San Jose SaberCats. The Blaze needed a wide receiver and a kick returner and didn't know what to expect.

Bocage did not disappoint. He caught six passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned a kick 56 yards for a touchdown and recovered a crucial onside kick attempt by San Jose to help spark the Blaze to a 76-68 victory.

Watching Bocage play now, you might assume he was a star in college but Bocage walked on to the University of Southern California during the team's dynasty in the early 2000's. He played with Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer, as well as NFL stars Steve Smith and Mike Williams.

"Playing with those guys in college put me in a situation where I had to compete against the best every day," said Bocage. "I could have gone somewhere else and been a starter but being at USC taught me the importance of each role. Instead of being the star receiver, I found a spot on special teams and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win."


"Playing with those guys in college put me in a situation where I had to compete against the best every day," said Bocage. "I could have gone somewhere else and been a starter but being at USC taught me the importance of each role. Instead of being the star receiver, I found a spot on special teams and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win."

Bocage continued playing football after college with two af2 teams; the Albany Conquest and the Tennessee Valley Vipers. During his time with Albany, he was coached by the current Blaze defensive coordinator Jeff Hoffman. Hoffman was impressed with Bocage then, but has seen tremendous growth in the player Bocage has become. "He has taken everything he has learned from each football experience and added it to his arsenal of weapons," said Hoffman.

Bocage's ability to learn and adapt has helped him in his new passion, coaching. Bocage coaches the wide receivers at Louisburg College in North Carolina. He knows that no one player can make a team or win a game. "The things that I have learned playing football are things that I have carried with me not just on the football field, but in life. We all have to work together to accomplish our goals," he said. "Each person has to do their part, but if everyone meshes those assignments together, you can accomplish so much more."

That attitude has carried over into his professional career. Bocage's kick return for a touchdown and three receiving touchdowns would be enough to make any young player's head inflate. But Bocage insists that wasn't what he remembers most about the game. "The highlight of the game for me was at the end when we came out of there with a win. When we blocked that extra point at the end, we knew we had the game, and I was just so happy."

Coach Ron James couldn't have been more pleased with the lift Bocage gave to the team. "It was extremely important for us to find a player who could come in and produce at a high level," James said. "Bocage filled the wide receiver and kick returner need perfectly and was the spark we needed to be successful in a big game."

Coach James also appreciates having a player who understands the importance of each position and takes it seriously. "What has impressed me most so far about Bocage is his game preparation. He studies film and practices like a seasoned veteran. He took ownership of his position quickly and was very well prepared in his first game with us. He was a major reason we won that game."

For his performance versus San Jose, Bocage was honored with the AFL's JSL Ironman of the Week award, given to the most outstanding player who plays two different positions in their respective game. But you can be assured that the individual accolade isn't what counts for Bocage. "I could have a big game with four or five touchdowns, but if we don't win the game none of that matters."

The Blaze look to land another win this weekend as they take on the Iowa Barnstormers, Friday night at 6 p.m. (MT). The game can be viewed on the NFL Network or fans can tune in live on Utah's Flagship station 1280/104.7 The Zone.

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