There’s big talk about Arlis Boardingham, the do-it-all football star at Birmingham

Arlis Boardingham holds his arms out with a football in each hand.
Birmingham junior Arlis Boardingham has grown to 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds.
(Boardingham family)

Sixth in a series of stories profiling top high school players in the Southland by position.

For four seasons, Lake Balboa Birmingham football coach Jim Rose and his standout player, Arlis Boardingham, have engaged in a spirited back-and-forth dialogue.

“He thinks I’m going to be 6-6, 260 pounds,” the 17-year-old senior said. “I think 6-5, 230.”


Either way, Boardingham passes the eyeball test as an athlete many will be hearing and reading about in the coming years.

He’s the only player in Rose’s coaching career that played free safety one game and defensive end in another. Boardingham’s best offensive position is receiver, but he easily could be a tight end. He also punts and returns kickoffs.

As an eighth-grader, he finished second in the nation for his age group in the triple jump. He has grown to 6 feet 5, 230 pounds and can probably play any position on the football field.

He’s a player the City Section can proudly boast stayed around despite all the challenges from COVID-19 restrictions and temptations to play for a private school. It helps that his father is Birmingham’s track coach and his mother works for the City Section.

Boardingham has grown up appreciating the friends he’s made and their loyalty toward helping him succeed. He’s ready for the test of proving to college recruiters he’s worthy of their attention in a time when many are still playing catch up. He got a brief opportunity during the pandemic-delayed spring season.

“It will be more of a challenge,” he said. “They don’t know how much I’ve grown and how much better I’ve gotten.”

On defense, Boardingham is hoping to use his agility and length to disrupt offenses. He showed his potential as a sophomore chasing down quarterbacks. Birmingham already produced a stellar defensive lineman in Malik Jackson, who plays for the Cleveland Browns.

“The difference with Arlis is he’s already a physical specimen and we haven’t started his senior season,” Rose said. “When Malik graduated, he was 225 pounds. With Arlis, how big is he going to get? He’s always, ‘No, I’ll never be that big.’ He’s just a big kid with skills.”

Said Boardingham: “There’s a lot of technique things to see and get through, but once you get that down and football down, it’s good. With my speed, I don’t do as a normal defensive end because of how fast I can get to the ball.”


On offense, Boardingham delivered some clutch touchdown catches, so he should be one of the best two-way threats in the City Section.

“I feel a little more creative over there at receiver,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy playing both positions, but if you get the ball in your hands, you can do anything.”

It will take years to determine who’s right about Boardingham’s eventual size, but Rose is convinced his future is bright. He remembers a play against El Camino Real.

“He came off the edge,” Rose said. “There was a rollout and he ran him down. That’s exactly what everyone in the world is looking for at that position. Athletically, we can put him anywhere.”

Texas, Arizona State and Notre Dame are colleges pursuing him, some on offense, some on defense.

Defensive linemen to watch

Arlis Boardingham, Birmingham, 6-5, 230, Sr. Rarely leaves the field on defense or offense.


Nathan Burrell, St. John Bosco, 6-2, 285, Sr. Cal commit hangs tough in Trinity League trenches.

Mason Graham, Servite, 6-3, 280, Sr. Let’s see who can block him.

Hero Kanu, Santa Margarita, 6-5, 293, Sr. Native of Germany is athletic freak.

Ezekiel Larry, Sierra Canyon, 6-2, 235, Sr. Had seven sacks in six spring games.

Mathias Malaki-Donaldson, Oaks Christian, 6-5, 210, Sr. Had 19 tackles during spring.

Gavriel Lightfoot, Corona Centennial, 6-3, 295, Sr. Part of strong Huskies line group.

Sione Moa, Mater Dei, 6-3, 260, Sr. Had 11 tackles vs. Servite in spring.

Ashton Sanders-Parker, Cathedral, 6-4, 302, Jr. Made impact in spring games.

Raymond Pulido, Apple Valley, 6-7, 340, Jr. He’s a huge nose guard with ability.