Kyle Boller’s tremendous arm strength earned him the nickname “Jesus in Cleats” during his high school days with the Hart Indians.
He could easily throw the pigskin some 85 yards downfield.
He eventually became one of the most prolific passers in California Golden Bears football history.
Regrettably, he is remembered more for his inconsistent play, inaccuracy, and propensity for turnovers in the National Football League.
Despite Boller’s best efforts and a top-six defense every year, he couldn’t lead Baltimore to postseason glory.
Boller’s demise as a Ravens quarterback eventually gave way to the rise of Joe Flacco.
Had Boller been more confident, consistent, and accurate in the pro ranks, he would’ve written a far better story.
Kyle Bryan Boller was born to parents Bob and Karen in Burbank, CA on June 17, 1981.
He has a sister Candace who played volleyball for the Loyola Marymount Lions.
Boller comes from a family of firefighters. In fact, three generations of Boller men dating back to his great-grandfather’s days were firemen.
“To be honest with you, if Kyle wouldn’t have made it in the NFL, he might have taken a shot at being a fireman,” Bob Boller told The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley during Kyle’s rookie year with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003.
Boller attended William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita, CA which is roughly twenty-one miles north of Burbank.
The school also produced NFL stars Delano Howell, Darryl Ingram, Joe Kapp, and Matt Moore.
Boller played high school football for the Hart Indians.
He competed for the starting quarterback job in his junior season with senior David Neil, who eventually suited up for the Nevada Wolf Pack in college.
Unfortunately, Boller lost out to Neill.
Consequently, Boller suited up for the Indians as a defensive back.
He wasn’t the most coordinated defender during his junior season.
“I was real clumsy,” Boller told SFGate.com’s Jake Curtis just before his freshman season with the California Golden Bears two years later. “I knew I wasn’t the same. I didn’t feel I could walk. I’d go out to cover a curl pattern and just fall over my feet.”
Despite Boller’s awkward transition as a defensive back, the Hart brothers – Mike, the head coach, and Dean, the offensive coordinator – believed he would excel at the quarterback position in his senior year.
According to Curtis, Boller’s clumsiness went away after he attended a five-month “fast-twitch” program that improved his reaction time significantly.
It was the missing link in Kyle Boller’s quarterback arsenal.
Last time I sat in this spot, the St Paul Swordsmen were in the CIF d3 championship game vs the Hart Indians featuring Kyle Boller at QB. ELAC takes on undefeated Canyons tonight. Excited for the opportunity! @Elac_football @StPaulFootball pic.twitter.com/AdY43PSHmB
— Ron Castillo (@CoachRon79) October 20, 2018
He could always sling the pigskin. In fact, Dean Herrington told SFGate.com Boller once threw the football 86 yards during a scrimmage match.
Boller proved that wasn’t a fluke.
He once passed for a 75-yard completion in an actual game.
Tom Holmoe, the head football coach of the California Golden Bears, scouted Boller in spring practice during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Holmoe initially wanted to size up Neill, but came away awestruck at Boller’s superior arm strength.
Little wonder Boller wound up playing for Holmoe several years later.
With Boller’s clumsy defensive back days behind him, he went on a tear at quarterback during his senior season with the Indians.
Behind Boller’s stellar play under center – he had a completion percentage of 63.9 percent – the Indians won thirteen of fourteen games in the 1998 season.
The Indians went on to win the CIF Southern Section Division III title.
As Boller’s high school football playing days wound down, he re-wrote the California prep history books.
He passed for 4,838 yards and 59 touchdowns.
Remarkably, Boller threw for just three interceptions.
To nobody’s surprise, Boller earned 1998 California State Player of the Year honors.
PrepStar also rated Boller the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country and named him National Offensive Co-Player of the Year.
Both Holmoe and Colorado Buffaloes head football coach Rick Neuheisel offered Boller a scholarship, per SFGate.com.
Many considered Kyle Boller the best quarterback prospect from San Fernando Valley since the emergence of the Granada Highlanders’ John Elway.
Little coincidence Boller considers Elway, the Hall-of-Fame Denver Broncos quarterback, his favorite professional athlete.
Kyle Boller would live up to the hype during his college football career in the state of California.
College Days With The California Golden Bears
Kyle Boller was a puny 5’5″ high school freshman quarterback for the Hart Indians.
Boller grew a modest two inches the season after.
Between then and Boller’s freshman season with the California Golden Bears, he grew ten inches.
By the time the eighteen-year-old took the field for his college football career in 1999, he was an imposing 6’5″.
It seemed Kyle Boller was destined to play quarterback.
He had it all: leadership, field vision, arm strength, pocket presence, and reaction time.
Boller, whom would put those tools to good use with the Golden Bears.
He told Curtis the pressure of playing quarterback in the college ranks didn’t faze him.
“A lot of people expect me to be everything,” Boller quipped. “The Daily Cal called me ‘Jesus in Cleats.'”
Could Boller be the savior of a reeling California football program that had averaged a measly four victories in the past two seasons?
No, the Golden Bears continued to mire in mediocrity with Boller under center.
However, Kyle Boller would continue re-writing the record books as a college quarterback.
However, his college football career got off to an inauspicious beginning.
Boller saw action for the first time in a California uniform with 8:56 remaining in the first half of the Golden Bears’ season opener against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on September 4, 1999.
He fumbled the football on his first snap.
Fortunately, Boller recovered the pigskin.
He went on to complete five consecutive passes – the first of which was a 26-yard completion to wide receiver Ronnie Davenport on a slant route.
Boller completed eight of 15 passes – which included a 17-yard touchdown strike – in the 21-7 win over Rutgers.
Boller made his first collegiate start against the Arizona State Sun Devils two weeks later.
“Our offense needs a spark and we’re hopeful Kyle can provide that boost,” Cal head football coach Tom Holmoe told CalBears.com (via CaliforniaGoldenBlogs.com’s Vlad Belo). “He’s looked more and more comfortable during the last two weeks and he’s gotten more reps with the first unit.”
Boller started like a house on fire, completing his first five passes and finished with 213 passing yards and two touchdowns in the narrow 24-23 victory over ASU.
Unfortunately, the Golden Bears imploded in their next eight games.
They went 2-6 during that stretch.
Nonetheless, Kyle Boller had definitely arrived.
He threw an 83-yard bomb to Drae Harris in the first quarter of Cal’s 17-7 road loss to the Oregon State Beavers on November 6, 1999.
The play was reminiscent of Boller’s 86-yard completion during a scrimmage game in high school.
Only this time, Boller did it on a much bigger stage, albeit in a losing effort.
— Vlad Belo (@GoldenBearVlad) August 26, 2018
Boller also threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to LaShaun Ward in the Golden Bears’ 38-28 loss to the BYU Cougars a month earlier.
Kyle Boller’s big arm was the real deal.
Despite Boller’s well-rounded game at quarterback, he still had some chinks in his armor.
He threw more picks (15) than touchdown passes (nine) at the conclusion of his true freshman season at Cal.
Boller also completed just 38.6 percent of his passes on his way to a 3-5 win-loss record as the Golden Bears’ starting signal caller in 1999.
At this point in Boller’s collegiate football career, he wasn’t “Jesus in Cleats” just yet.
However, he’d eventually live up to that billing later on.
Boller started eleven games for the Golden Bears in his sophomore season in 2000.
He showed decent improvement, finishing the 2000 NCAA season with 2,121 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes, and 13 interceptions.
He also improved his pass completion percentage to 46.7.
Alas, his improved accuracy – not a gaudy figure by a long shot – wasn’t enough to win more games for the Golden Bears.
Cal won just three games in Boller’s second year as its starting quarterback.
Arguably his best game of the season was the triple-overtime triumph over the 13th-ranked UCLA Bruins on October 14, 2000.
Boller lit up the scoreboard for 252 yards and three touchdown passes in the win.
He expanded his quarterback repertoire that year as well.
Boller had two 22-yard scrambles against the Bruins.
He also ran for 24 yards in the 17-15 loss to the 19th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini on September 16, 2000.
Clearly, Kyle Boller was becoming more of a dual-threat quarterback and not just a mere gunslinger.
Instead of improving in his junior season on the collegiate gridiron, Boller regressed.
He threw for just 12 touchdowns and had 10 interceptions in the 2001 NCAA campaign.
The Golden Bears were bad, winning just one game all season long.
Tom Holmoe, the man who recruited Kyle Boller to Cal, resigned at the end of the 2001 NCAA season.
He recorded a 15-37 (.288) win-loss record in five years at the helm at Cal.
The coaching change apparently rejuvenated Kyle Boller.
Boller finally lived up to his “Jesus in Cleats” nickname under new Golden Bears head football coach Jeff Tedford in 2002.
“I’m pleased with his progress,” Tedford told the Golden Bears’ official athletics website prior to Boller’s senior season. “When he has a fall camp under his belt, he’s going to be something special.”
Tedford’s words were prophetic.
Boller passed for 2,815 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in twelve games in 2002.
He also improved his maligned passer completion percentage to 53.4 in his farewell year at Berkeley.
Boller concluded his college football career with 7,980 passing yards, 64 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions.
Boller currently ranks third all-time in career passing yards in California Golden Bears football history.
Only Jared Goff (12,200 passing yards) and Troy Taylor (8,126 passing yards) have recorded more.
Boller (64) also ranks second to Goff (96) in passing touchdowns.
Kyle Boller was about to take his act to the National Football League.
Could “Jesus in Cleats” resurrect a franchise which won the Super Bowl just three years earlier?
Pro Football Career
The Baltimore Ravens won their first Super Bowl title in 2000.
With stalwarts such as quarterback Trent Dilfer, running back Jamal Lewis, linebacker Ray Lewis, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, and tight end Shannon Sharpe leading the way, the Ravens annihilated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7.
Baltimore won just seven games two years later.
It seemed like a throwback to the team’s performance in the mid-to late-1990s when they won an average of six games a season.
One major chink in the Ravens’ armor was their inept passing game: their 2,847 passing yards ranked them 27th in the NFL in 2002.
Perhaps Kyle Boller – a.k.a. “Jesus in Cleats” – could be the Ravens’ savior and bring their moribund passing offense back to life.
According to The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley, the Ravens were torn between Boller and Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Byron Leftwich.
Baltimore also had Washington State Cougars cornerback Marcus Trufant and Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive tackle Kevin Williams on its radar.
Ravens head coach Brian Billick spoke highly of Boller.
“He’s athletic and has a strong personality,” he told Hensley in the weeks leading up to the draft. “He has all the measurables, as does (USC Trojans quarterback Carson) Palmer and Leftwich.”
Leftwich’s broken shin bone served as a red flag for Billick and Co.
Apparently, they used that as a measuring stick and made Boller the 19th overall selection of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Billick named Boller the Ravens’ starting quarterback for the 2003 NFL campaign.
Boller threw seven touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his first nine starts in the pro ranks.
Still think about the time Kyle Boller warmed up to come into a game the Ravens trailed 21-0 in the 4th quarter and couldn't even complete a four yard pass on he sideline to a stationary target pic.twitter.com/YTyHgWEiwu
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) April 29, 2020
He sustained a thigh injury against the then-St. Louis Rams on November 9, 2003 that forced him to sit out six of the Ravens’ next seven games.
Boller also underwent offseason surgery on his quadriceps.
These were just some of the injuries that took a toll on Boller’s play in the National Football League.
Despite Boller’s injury woes, Baltimore won ten games and returned to postseason contention in 2003.
With Boller out of commission, Anthony Wright took over as quarterback in the Ravens’ 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card Game on January 3, 2004.
Wright completed 20 of 37 passes and threw for 214 yards, one touchdown, and two picks in the loss.
Boller was back in harness for the 2004 NFL campaign – his best in Ravens Purple and Black.
Boller, who started all sixteen games, threw for a career-high 2,559 yards along with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions that year.
His best game of the season – and perhaps his entire career – was his 219-yard, four-touchdown, and zero interception outing against the New York Giants on December 13, 2004.
It was his first time to throw more than two touchdown passes in twenty-one NFL starts.
The Ravens won big, 37-14.
Although the Ravens won nine games in 2004, they missed the postseason for the second time in three years.
A healthy Kyle Boller seemed ready to build on his success the following season.
Alas, he sustained a turf toe injury against the Indianapolis Colts on primetime television on September 11, 2005.
The injury forced Boller to sit out Baltimore’s next seven games.
#OTD in 2005 (yeah, 15 years ago), Kyle Boller outplayed both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers (in his NFL debut) and led the Ravens to a 48-3 victory over the Packers.
It is still the biggest blowout in Monday Night Football history. pic.twitter.com/DZeEVIvMzX
— Connor Newcomb (@ConnorNewcomb_) December 20, 2020
He showed some flashes of brilliance, passing for three touchdowns in three of those outings.
However, he finished a sub-par year with 1,799 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
The Ravens were eliminated from postseason contention for the second straight year.
Things would change for the better for Baltimore in the 2006 NFL season.
Regrettably, it would be just the opposite for Kyle Boller.
The Ravens acquired 2003 NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Steve ‘Air” McNair in a trade with the Titans on June 7, 2006.
Boller’s days as Baltimore’s starting signal caller were officially over.
Nonetheless, he filled in admirably for McNair when the latter sustained injuries during the 2006 NFL season.
For instance, Boller threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns after McNair sustained a neck injury and mild concussion in the Ravens’ 23-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers on October 15, 2006.
Two months later, McNair injured his hand in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
Boller filled in for him and passed for 238 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick in Baltimore’s 27-17 win over Cleveland.
With McNair as starting quarterback, the Ravens won thirteen games and returned to postseason contention.
Unfortunately, they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Round on January 13, 2007, 15-6.
Boller would ultimately regain the Ravens’ starting quarterback job in Week 10 of the 2007 NFL season when McNair’s play tailed off considerably.
Boller finished the year with 1,743 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
— The Dawgland (@TheDawgLand) December 19, 2019
The Ravens regressed again, winning just five games in 2007.
They eventually fired Billick at the end of the season and drafted Delaware Hens quarterback Joe Flacco a few months later.
When McNair retired at the end of the 2007 NFL campaign, Boller competed for the starting quarterback spot with Flacco and Troy Smith.
Regrettably, Boller sustained an injury in the preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Baltimore consequently placed Boller on injured reserve on September 3, 2008. He missed the entire 2008 NFL campaign.
Kyle Boller had officially played his last down for the Baltimore Ravens.
Over the next three seasons, Boller saw limited action as a backup quarterback for the then-St. Louis Rams and the then-Oakland Raiders.
He played in fourteen games during that stretch and passed for 1,085 yards, three touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Chargers back in market for a fill-in backup QB. Kyle Boller has retired, according to a source.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) July 28, 2012
Kyle Boller officially retired from the National Football League on July 28, 2012.
Boller threw for 8,931 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 54 interceptions in 67 career games spanning nine NFL seasons.
He earned approximately $17.9 million during his NFL career.
He told the Ravens’ official website in October 2019 he had no regrets about retiring from the gridiron:
“For me, the day that I did retire was one of the best days of my life.”
“The world was lifted off my shoulders. When you play that long, I was mentally, physically, and emotionally burnt out of it.”
— CBS Sports Radio (@CBSSportsRadio) September 30, 2020
Kyle Boller married former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean on July 3, 2010.
They welcomed their first child Grace Christina on May 11, 2010.
Two years later, the couple had a son named Brody.
The Boller family currently resides in California.
Boller was the co-founder and CEO of PHIVEbar, a nutritional bar loaded with superfoods such as dates and figs.
Kyle Boller is an avid skier and golfer, per CalBears.com.