Boren to Be Wild

By Kyle Rowland on August 9, 2012 at 10:00a
Boren has quickly grown into a favorite of Meyer's.

Under normal circumstances, Zach Boren would have a handful of catches and (maybe) one carry this season. His main duty would revolve around blocking for another 1,000-yard running back, something he had done in two of his three seasons at Ohio State. A reward and goal for him and his teammates at the end of another grueling Big Ten season would be awaiting: a bowl game in a warm-weather locale.

But these aren’t normal circumstances. The Buckeye football program has just recently returned to normalcy after a 12-month period of near uncertainty. Jim Tressel, gone; conservative offense, gone; 2012 postseason, gone.

All has not been lost for Boren, however. Head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman have ushered in a new era of Buckeye football on many fronts, one being an offense deemed futuristic in Columbus. The fullback will be a ball carrier and a receiver. Gasp!

Pushing the rewind button even further on Boren’s career reveals that he came to Ohio State to be a linebacker. It comes as no surprise that Boren – a Boren – was primed to play a position that imposes physical home on the opponent.

“When I went to fullback I kind of brought the linebacker attitude to fullback,” he said. “I was going to go out and hit someone. I prided myself on leading the running back to the right area and then making contact and hitting a guy.”

Boren’s offseason success story is two parts. Not only did he develop a Simon-esque workout style, but he quickly established the offensive skillset that Meyer’s “power” spread offense calls for. Boren dropped 25 pounds and now checks in at 240. His career totals read one carry for two yards and 20 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"He's a very good player,” Meyer said. “He can catch, he can carry the ball. He doesn't exactly have the homerun ability you'd like to see. But he's a tough guy and he will carry the ball for us."

Said Boren: "Twenty-five pounds is a lot. Everything's a lot easier than it was. I'm a lot faster than I was last year. I'm a lot quicker, more agile. Hopefully it shows during the season.

"I had to work harder. I had to be doing more stuff each day. I'm not just working on my hand placement and hitting dummies. I'm working out with the tailbacks and doing cuts and stuff like that, next time catching balls out of the backfield, next time catching routes from Braxton (Miller) out wide. It's just expanding my role and putting in more time.”

Exhibiting an agile running ability and as sure a set of hands as there are on the team, Boren’s career numbers should increase exponentially. Save for tight end, there isn’t a position on the team that has benefitted more from Meyer’s hiring in terms of productivity.

There will be less lead-blocking in 2012.

"It's been a while since I ran the ball,” said Boren, recalling a sterling career at Pickerington Central High School. “But I'm trying to get back to those roots. I see my role expanding a lot in this offense, and I'm excited about it – ecstatic to be doing whatever I'm going to be doing this season.

Already, in just the first full week of drills, Boren has flashed the traits that make him a legitimate threat. On Tuesday, he scored two touchdowns in red zone drills, running straight into the teeth of the defense both times.

With Jordan Hall due to miss multiple games to begin the season, Boren’s importance becomes even more magnified. Carlos Hyde is expected to take a bulk of the carries, with Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn providing some relief. But now Boren becomes the wild card. Ohio State will have two players in the backfield who are plenty capable of running the ball and not just gaining yards but making an impact.

“I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, actually I’m stronger,” Boren said. “What people have to realize is we’re not running an I-offense anymore. I don’t need to be going through on an iso and trying to take out a dude and cracking my helmet or cracking my facemask. Our offense isn’t in that era anymore.”

Meyer has made it clear that the best 11 players and those who are game-changers will be on the field.

"The coaches came in and said they wanted to expand my role,” Boren said. “But in order to do that, I had to lose some weight, get faster and stuff like that. I was on board from the moment they got here.”

Still, regardless of how much success Boren or the team have, and the expectations are lofty, there will be no national championship, no Rose Bowl, no Big Ten championship. Boren is among the group of 21 seniors that also includes the likes of John Simon, Jake Stoneburner and Etienne Sabino.

At the Gator Bowl, Boren said he tried not to focus on the game serving as his last bowl. When the subject was brought up at Big Ten media days in July, Boren’s entire vision on the postseason ban shifted.

No Rose Bowl, no big deal. The Buckeyes are still hungry.

“I didn’t even realize we weren’t going to a bowl game until I got around here and was asked questions about it again,” he said. “We have never talked about it in the offseason. The only time we’ve brought it up was in December when they handed out those penalties.”

Senior offensive lineman Reid Fragel said the team will use the punishment as motivation.

"Nobody is saying 'woe is me' and all of that stuff," he said. "We were a little aggravated, but we'll use that to our advantage."

It’s undoubtedly something that Meyer likes to hear. He spoke at length about angry and hungry teams, providing past experiences as evidence that they play better than friendlier, famished teams, so to speak.

Meyer, himself, is irked about the bowl ban. When he accepted the Ohio State job in November, he believed the football program would steer clear of the most serious NCAA sanctions. More than that, though, he feels badly for the senior leaders who won’t get a prize in their Cracker Jack boxes.

“It's uncomfortable," Meyer said. "I see Zach Boren walking across the hall here. That kid deserves to play for a championship. He's earned that right. John Simon is one of the hardest working guys I've ever been around in 26 years, same with (Etienne) Sabino.

"Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for these guys? Yeah. We can go win the Leaders. Can we go to the championship game? That's out of our control. But they're playing for something.”

Winning every Saturday and putting maximum effort forth out of respect for the seniors have been stated as the goals.

For Boren, South Florida or Pasadena would certainly make a grand exit. But it doesn’t get any bigger than Nov. 24 in Ohio Stadium for the 109th renewal of “The Game.”

A win would mark a return to normalcy in the rivalry and close the curtain on the beginning of a new era of Buckeye football.


Comments Show All Comments

LouGroza's picture

Glad the Borens removed themselves from the dark side and saw the light. Tough SOBs that work hard and do us all proud. Excited to see Zach with the ball this fall going head first into opposing dbs. Certainly younger brother will be a big contributor as well in the future. Good luck men.

Doc's picture

I'm wondering if Coach Meyer might make "Championship" rings for the Seniors at the end of the year.  Having a class ring made or some such thing might be a nice touch.

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schooey's picture

I can't wait to see ZB carry the ball. I don't know which aspect of the offense I am more excited to see. And the D-line should be a treat as well. I just can't f.... wait. 

isaacl's picture

What are his NFL prospects? Does he project to be a solid pick at full back?

DJ Byrnes's picture

good read my dude.
i saw urban one time talking about tebow's lack of success in the NFL. he said it was on the coaches for not using his talents, because "there are enough plays in football to succeed, go find them."
ppl seem to be looking for the next Percy Harvin, but i fully expect Urban to make fire with whatever tools he's given. i think boren's role this year will prove that, and will make the ire for jim bollman that much bigger.
***edit, can't believe i forgot to mention... daps for the "return to normalcy"... i see wut  u did there.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Buckeyejason's picture

Fullbacks are rarely picked..I'd say maybe very late or picked up as an undrafted free agent.


DJ Byrnes's picture

he can come ply his trade in the city of cleveland after tis year 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

osu07asu10's picture

unless youre the browns...then you draft em in the 4th

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buck-I.8's picture

Well seeing that Peyton Hillis, Jamal Lewis, and Reuben Droughns have been our most successful backs in the recent past, it appears that putting the bruisers out there is the best available strategy.

osu07asu10's picture

I was referencing the Owen Marecic pick from the 2011 draft.  A 4th rd pick, whose contributions to date are 4 carries for 8 yards and 5 receptions for 31  yards.
Wooo brownies! We really know what we are doing

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buck-I.8's picture

Yeah haha, I got the reference, but as soon as we start trying to rationalize the Browns' draft picks, we might as well all quit our jobs, it's gonna be quite the time investment.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Someday we should do a good rundown of all the bad draft picks Cleveland's made, going back to 99 with the Tim Couch pick. They started off with a bad pick when they returned to the league and haven't done much better since. 

buck-I.8's picture

I think such a project would be more painful than necessary

tennbuckeye19's picture

I agree, but its obvious that Browns fans like myself enjoy heartache and pain more than most.

buck-I.8's picture

If that's true, we must have the best front office in the NFL

tennbuckeye19's picture

You know we do. Where else do they have the motto "Winning is NOT an option"? 

buck-I.8's picture

I'm afraid this Haslam guy will stroll in here thinking he can build a winning franchise

tennbuckeye19's picture

Things can't get much worse. I know its not football, but his family did build an oil company (Pilot) from a single gas station to a multi-billion dollar empire. I would be open to him doing whatever to improve things. Its clear he's a good businessman, but he needs to put the right people in place to make good football decisions.

Haybucks's picture

Tebow was picked in the 1st round.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Defend Youngstown's picture

Boren is projected on all the boards as the #1 or #2 fullback for the draft. He will still go in the later rounds (6 or 7 probably) because it just isn't a position of need. That said, he can still carve out an important role on a team that will keep him on rosters for a long time. Just look at John Kuhn in Green Bay.

Crimson's picture

I remember some NFL exec saying that to get a good fullback, you have to pick them a round or two ahead of where they project.  If he is the best in the draft, he could go as early as the 3rd or 4th rounds if someone needs him.

Buckeyejason's picture

He'd have to have a monster year for that to happen..good rushing highlights, receptions, etc. we know he could block. 3rd or 4th round I highly doubt! Anythings possible in a crap shoot like the draft though.


Buckeyejason's picture

Too bad fullback is a dying position in college football and soon enough, the NFL. Luke you said I he fits a teams need, they'll draft him. Either way he'll play in the league.


BrewstersMillions's picture

If he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he really helps himself. I think he can fit nicely as an H Back type in the right scheme. As odd as it sounds-he could suit a team like New Orleans really well with how they use hybrid type guys.

Buckeyejason's picture

I know he's  not as fast, but maybe he could be another Peyton Hillis lol


buck-I.8's picture

That's what I was thinking haha, needs to up his level of freakish muscle though. Or maybe not, seeing as Hillis fumbled a lot because his bicep was too large to cradle the football.
But in all seriousness, Boren at 240 might be a bit small for a fullback, so I don't see him getting drafted unless he really shows himself as a bruising back

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Boren-Dozer for Heisman, anyone?

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

HighBallAce's picture

You know what would be cool, not so much if Coach Meyer had the championship rings made but if the Buckeye fans took up an offering to pay for them for the team! They've given so much to us over the years, maybe we should give something back to them?
Just one dollar from each fan at the gate for each home game would easily pay for the rings. The only thing is, would the NCAA allow it?

ajbosu1's picture

Yeah, $700K should cover it.