Kyle Vanden Bosch was on the phone with his agent at 11:01 p.m. central time the first minute of free agency in March of 2010 when he received a call from Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz just so happened to be waiting outside Vanden Bosch’s gated community in Nashville and spent the next 3.5 hours in Vanden Bosch’s kitchen trying to recruit him to become the newest defensive end for the Lions.
Schwartz must have been a heck of a salesman because Vanden Bosch agreed to a four-year, $26 million deal shortly after the meeting to become the first piece in the Lions’ transformation from a 0-16 football team.
It wasn’t just Vanden Bosch’s talent Schwartz was after that night. It was also his work ethic and leadership ability.
The Lions were in need of a culture change and Vanden Bosch was an important piece.
“Kyle is a lead-by-example guy,” said Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. “When teams turn it around there are certain guys in the locker room that you look at as being reasons why. Without Kyle, we wouldn’t have been able to turn around as quickly as we have.”
Vanden Bosch has been a captain since the moment he got to Detroit and has been just as valuable in the locker room and meeting room as he’s been on the field.
It’s no surprise Vanden Bosch is the recipient of this year’s Joe Schmidt Leadership Award as voted by his teammates.
The Joe Schmidt Award is presented to the player who has displayed outstanding leadership, drive and achievement on the field and it the locker room.
“Kyle’s leadership and energy and the way he carries himself is important for this football team,” said Lions general manager Martin Mayhew in an interview with sports radio 790 in Atlanta on Wednesday.
On the field, Vanden Bosch was second on the team with eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Vanden Bosch plays the game hard every snap of each game, practice and walk-through and his work ethic has rubbed off on his defensive line mates.
When he first arrived, Vanden Bosch was the only defensive lineman running 40 yards down-field to make a play in training camp. Now, you’ll see two or three of them hustling down-field to make a play.
Hard work is infectious.
Vanden Bosch took fellow defensive end Cliff Avril under his wing and Avril has become one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles this season.
“Kyle took him under his wing and they worked out every day up in Michigan during the lockout,” Kocurek said. “Having Kyle around has been great for Cliff and everyone else in that meeting room and that locker room.”
Tags: Cliff Avril, Jim Schwartz, Kris Kocurek, Kyle Vanden Bosch
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