The Massachusetts Pirates have a lot of great talent on their roster, especially at receiver but one name literally sticks out in more ways than one.
Wide receiver Bones Bagaunte born in Maryland, has had a passion for football ever since he picked one up at a very young age.
“I first started playing football when I was five,” I played running back all the way up to high school,” Bagaunte said. “I made the transition year to wide receiver my sophomore year in high school,” I tried defensive back and wide receiver. I had good hands already, but I needed to work on my bursts and starting routes.”
Bagaunte was a multi-sport athlete and remained that way until he was recruited to the University of Cincinnati.
By just opening his mind and working, Bagaunte played very well. In his first year, he earned 2nd-team All-Big East Honors as well as freshman All-American honors. He also had 13 touchdowns which was a school record as well as recording a 210 yard receiving game which put him at 4th-all time in school history.
“My college days were easy because I was the student of the game and I would watch the film with the other positions knowing what they’re doing,” Bagaunte said. “It’s about sharing the same knowledge, all about learning together and being the student of the game it helped me a lot and slowed the game down.”
It didn’t come without its bumps. He was later challenged by a freshman and lost playing time as a result. This in turn hurt whatever draft stock he had built up to that point making him consider possibly giving up the game all together.
“I came off an All-American year,” Bagaunte said. “There was a point I thought about walking away but not because of the injury and I was competing with a freshman. I didn’t like it but I fought and just wanted to play.”
After college, he started his career playing for the Omaha Beef of Champions Indoor Football and then with the Nebraska Danger.
He then found himself with the Kansas City Command where a representative of the Kansas City Chiefs caught his play and was interested in bringing him in. However, Bagaunte pulled his hamstring squandering his chance then at the NFL.
It was sometime later that the Pirates had begun building and President of the team Jawad Yatim knew exactly who to call to fill the void at wide receiver.
“It was really a phone call about what I had planned, Bones and I personally go back ever since we played together out in Montana in the IFL,” Yatim said. “He came out to Boston for a Celtics game and the rest is history, he knew Coach Ameer (Ismail) and he was confortable with the situation.”
Bagaunte came in with his student of the game attitude as he exhibited in college and immediately hit the ground running. Scoring 10 receiving touchdowns, he is only five behind the team leader Devonn Brown (15) and has taken on many roles including returning kicks.
Head coach Ameer Ismail who had the opportunity to coach Bagaunte last season, had nothing but praise for his receiver.
“He’s got a very high IQ,” Ismail said. His intelligence for the game is tremendous and he’s very tough. One of the toughest guys we have on our team it doesn’t matter whether it’s offensive line, defensive line, whatever. He’s one of the most fearless competitors that I have ever been a part of.”
This toughness and commitment this season is not surprising to wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. Gilyard and Bagaunte played at Cincinnati and built a relationship so strong that when given the opportunity to play with him again, it wasn’t even a question.
“Bones is my little brother,” Gilyard said. “Me and him have been together forever, we fuel off each other, play off each other. So when I had the chance to sign together on the same team it was a no-brainer, it’s just been a blessing to have my little brother.”
The chemistry between the two is clear in the stats as when they are both on the field together, the team has only lost one game.
But one of the biggest critics always is the one throwing the ball. Quarterback Sean Brackett who has had to build a rapport with Bagaunte, could not be happier with his receiver on and off the field.
“Bones is a great dude,” Brackett said. “Humble, hard worker. One of the most interesting guys I’ve met- funny as hell. Got a lil class clown in him. But when it comes to football he is dead serious. Loves the game and putting on a show for the fans.”
Other than his team, Bagaunte holds a special place in his heart for the fans and does not take it for granted when he sees his jersey or his number on signs.
“I have been very fortunate to have been liked wherever I go,” Bagaunte said. Whenever I see fans with the posters coming to support, I try to be there for them especially at the autographs after the games, because when they come to support you when they don’t have to, it’s just a blessing.”
Despite all of this, he’s still looking to improve and just continues to push not only himself and the people around him.
“He’s a technician,” Ismail said. “He knows the in’s and out’s of the game, he pushes us as coaches as well, he asks all the right questions, respects authority, and it’s a pleasure to have him.
His drive to be better on and off the field comes from one of his favorite quotes. What he continues to live by day after day.
“My favorite quote that I play by is “do more, say less” and that’s a play on “actions speak louder than words so I live by that, you have to do more and say less.”