No Regrets For All-Buckeye Boren

Justin Boren will take the Ohio Stadium field for the final time Saturday afternoon for his last Ohio State-Michigan game. His time as a collegiate athlete has been a unique one. At times tumultuous, Boren said Monday he has no regrets and is all Buckeye heading into his final battle with his former team.

When Justin Boren began his college football career, he probably thought about the possibility of someday getting hugs from parents, a handshake from his head coach and the opportunity to soak in the cheers on Senior Day before an Ohio State-Michigan football game.

He probably did not expect it to happen at Ohio Stadium while wearing scarlet and gray, however.

Boren's story is well known to fans of both the Buckeyes and Wolverines. The offensive guard was recruited by both schools but chose to attend Michigan and play for head coach Lloyd Carr. Then after two seasons – including one in which he was an All-Big Ten honorable mention – Boren transferred to Ohio State when Carr retired at the completion of the 2007 season.

The central Ohio native has excelled in Columbus. He sat out the 2008 season and then had an impressive junior season in last fall. He was a first team all-conference pick by the media and a second-team selection by the coaches. This season he has anchored a line that has went from much-maligned to one of the offense's best units.

Even so, the subject of Michigan is never too far when Boren meets with the media.

"It is a huge rivalry game for every single one of us. I don't know if it is any bigger for me," Boren said. "What happened was two-and-a-half years ago. I am just taking it like any other Ohio State-Michigan game."

Boren knows what it's like to suit up on both sides of the rivalry. He told reporters on Monday that he recalled the leadup to the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between U-M and Ohio State in 2006. Boren said meeting with Bo Schembechler the day before the legendary coach passed away is something he will not forget.

"He gave us a speech before the game on Thursday night before the game," Boren said. "That is one thing I will never forget about Michigan. It was the highlight of my whole time being there. It was unbelievable to hear him speak and to hear my dad talk about him and how great of a coach he was.

"I got a chance to know him and kind of talk to him a little bit. Hearing him give his last speech and then when he passed away Friday, that is something that was just crazy."

The Buckeyes won that memorable meeting with Michigan, and Boren was again on the losing side of the matchup a year later when OSU beat the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. It was the last regular-season game for Carr – and for Boren. He left shortly after Rich Rodriguez took over, citing an erosion of "family values" surrounding the program.

Soon after departing Ann Arbor, Boren arrived in Columbus.

"Nobody ever gave me a hard time. They welcomed me with open arms," said Boren, who also said he still keeps in contact with Carr. "I was more scared coming in here after transferring than I was going to Michigan as a freshman. I played Ohio State in November and came here in June, so it was only a couple months. I was a little nervous but everyone was awesome."

Boren said everything after become a Buckeye has been a positive. His younger brother, Zach, joined the team as a fullback in 2008, and both played for OSU in a 21-10 victory at Ann Arbor against Michigan,

"When I was making the decision my biggest fear was if I was going to look back and regret what I did," Justin Boren said. "I can honestly say I have never had any regrets. It is the best decision I have ever made and I couldn't be happier to be here."

Boren is all Buckeye, and even his family has undergone a transformation. Both of his parents are U-M grads and former Wolverine athletes and they'll both be in scarlet and gray on Saturday as their oldest son takes the Ohio Stadium field for the final time. That includes father Mike, who played for Schembechler and did not like Ohio State because the Buckeyes did not recruit him.

"I haven't really talked to him, but he is a hundred percent Ohio State. He has Ohio State shirts and he doesn't wear anything Michigan. He is loyal to his sons and to Ohio State. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for my parents and everything they've done."

Only two other players know what its like to have played for both Ohio State and Michigan: J.T. White and Howard Yerges. Despite Boren's unique place in the history of the OSU-Michigan game, he has not given his journey much thought.

"There have been a couple moments I guess, but Coach Tress keeps us busy enough where we don't have a lot time to think about much of anything," Boren said. "Maybe when I am older I can look back and think that's crazy, but it is something to think about."

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