On Loyola’s first series against Mount Carmel in Week 3, senior quarterback Matthew Schiltz lofted a pass from the Caravan’s 7-yard line to senior receiver Rory Boos in the right side of the end zone.
The throw seemed to be short, but Boos adjusted, reached over the defender facing him and grabbed the ball behind his helmet.
For most receivers, it’s a catch that immediately goes into their highlight reel.
For Boos, it’s a reception that’s become routine.
“It wasn’t a great ball by me,” Schiltz confessed. “But he’s someone who catches those types of passes.”
Schiltz should know. He’s been playing organized football with Boos since the fifth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview.
“He’s a natural and someone I trust,” Schiltz said.
Loyola offensive coordinator Tyler Vradenburg has come to expect — and appreciate — those kinds of catches from Boos, too. An assistant on the Ramblers staff since 2003, Vradenburg was a receiver in college at Pomona-Pitzer, a Division III program in California.
“You can put it anywhere near him, and he will find it,” Vradenburg said.
The touchdown against Mount Carmel was the first of a career-high 13 catches for the 6-foot, 165-pound Boos. His 182 yards also were the most of his two-year varsity career.
Through four games, Boos, a team captain, has 25 receptions for 424 yards and three TDs in four games. He’s caught at least two passes in every game.
Boos’ success this season isn’t surprising. He established himself as a go-to receiver as a junior when he caught 45 passes for 827 yards and 11 TDs. In Loyola’s 23-14 loss to Lincoln-Way East in the Class 8A state final, he finished with eight receptions for 84 yards and one TD.
Heading into his senior year, Boos was all set to build on his breakout season and impress college coaches enough to earn himself offers to play at the next level. Average height and always skinny, Boos excelled because of his speed and sure hands.
“I’ve always wanted to play college football, but no one took me seriously,” he said. “I think I’ve exceeded even my own expectations.”
But Boos hit a speed bump this summer. Inexplicably, he struggled with the basics of being a receiver. The more balls he dropped, the more his confidence dipped. It got to a point where Vradenburg gave Boos a day off from practice, something the coach rarely has done during his 16 seasons.
“He went through a rough patch, and he was not where he needed to be,” Vradenburg said. “I had a talk with him, and he didn’t fight me on it.”
Searching for a solution himself, Boos didn’t resist the intervention or Vradenburg’s decision. In fact, Boos acknowledged the rest was necessary and welcomed it.
“I had lost my confidence, and [Vradenburg] knew what was right for me,” he said. “The next day at practice was my best of the summer.”
In the season opener, Boos had seven receptions for 97 yards. The following game, a 40-3 win over New Trier, he caught two passes for 103 yards. Both were for TDs, including one on a post route that went for 86 yards.
“I saw the ball go up high in the air, and then I saw Rory run right under it,” Loyola senior receiver Artie Collins said.
Added Boos, “I told Matt before the play to throw it as far as he can.”
As good as he’s been over two seasons, Boos isn’t satisfied. There always is room to improve, he said. According to Vradenburg, college coaches should start paying attention.
“He’s continues to work on his game,” Vradenburg said. “Rory has the heart, the will and the brains. He’s someone who gets the job done.”
Photo credit: Geoff Scott