On The Lighter side

Making a college commitment early has its advantages, but it can also result in not getting a taste for what else is out there. OL Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward committed to OSU last summer, but he is also not going to miss out on the chance to experience the recruiting process. In his latest version of "On The Lighter Side", Gary Housteau talks with Boone about his recruiting plans, his OSU commitment, and his brother J.J., who is currently serving in the Marine Corps.

Everyone seems to want to know what is going on these days with Alex Boone of St. Edward High School in Cleveland after the Nike camp and an appearance at the Scarlet and Gray game in successive weekends.

"After the Nike camp I felt confident in my performance and I felt really good," Boone said. "I didn't think I was in that good of shape but things turned out very well. And then after watching the Spring game I was excited to start playing football soon."

At 6-8, 296, Boone ran a 5.1 second 40-yard dash time and he bench pressed 185 for 24 reps with a formerly dislocated left elbow. He said his elbow is really starting to feel good now.

"It's feeling a lot better," he said. "I'd say it's about 85 percent now. It'll be 100 percent by football season."

In addition to doing well in the testing at the camp, Boone just had a great time being there in general.

"It was fun just to be around a bunch of good players and I got to do some technique drills," he said.

And he was happy with his weight. He'll likely be throwing it around on both sides of the ball again this year.

"I'll probably be playing around 300 this year or 305," Boone said. "If my coaches want me to go both ways then I probably will. Anything that's god for the team is good for me."

Fellow offensive lineman Zach Hennis is one of the guys at the camp that caught Boone's eye.

"I liked everything (about him)," he said of Hennis. "His performance and his ability to move for a big guy I thought was really impressive. The fact that he's so confident in himself and not cocky, I like that about him. And he's just a great kid. I got to talk to him for little bit and he's a nice kid."

Boone, basically reaffirmed his lofty status in the recruiting process after his performance at the Nike Camp. And he also reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State.

"Right now, I am still 100 percent for Ohio State," Boone said. "I just recently checked out Notre Dame and the campus itself just sells the place. I thought it was a beautiful place and they had the nicest coaches. I was sitting there thinking, ‘Wow it would be nice to go to Notre Dame!' But I'm still definitely committed to Ohio State."

He explained the visits as just taking full advantage of being in the position that he's in right now.

"It's that and the fact that my mom wants me to look around so I know what I'm passing up, which I think is a good idea," Boone said. "There shouldn't be anything wrong with going and looking around. And like I said, I'm still committed to Ohio State."

It's obviously fun being Alex Boone right now.

"Actually it is, it is really fun," he said. "A lot of kids at my school joke with me about it but it's good fun."

And the Boone campus tour will continue throughout the summer.

"I'm trying to go to Oklahoma this summer and hopefully I'll go back to Notre Dame too," he said. "I was maybe even thinking about taking a trip out to USC. And hopefully I'm going to take a trip out to Penn State soon."

He even intends to take all of his official visits.

"I'm going to take all five actually," Boone said.

Even Michigan?

"I will be going on an official visit to Michigan," he said. "It's a good school and I have the deepest respect for them and it wouldn't hurt to look around, especially for a place so close to home. But obviously I'm still 100 percent with Ohio State and I don't think I will be going to Michigan."

He knows the angst that most Buckeye fans have for the Wolverines but he means no harm or disrespect to the OSU faithful.

"Everybody is their own person and there is nothing wrong with taking a look at it, and looking around, and meeting new people and just getting a feel for it," Boone said. "I do get criticized all the time for even talking to Michigan, but once again, I'm going to be my own person and do things that other people may or may not do."

Ohio State was such a logical choice for Boone to commit to when he did originally.

"I was young and I was so excited that they would actually consider me that early," he said. "I love Ohio State so much that it's hard to say in words. I've always been a Buckeye fan, always."

Boone camped at Ohio State last year.

"I thought I did very well there. I was kind of young and I was just starting to get a feel for things," he said. "But this year when I go down, I think I'll do a lot better and I'll feel more comfortable."

He intends this summer to camp at least at Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame.

"My (late) grandpa was a huge fan of Notre Dame, and it's sad that he couldn't see me take a trip out there," Boone said. "Yeah, I love Notre Dame but obviously I'm still committed to Ohio State 100 percent."

Coaches like Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman are two major reasons why his commitment is as good as gold.

"Words can't describe my feelings toward them. When I talk to them, I feel like they actually care about you," said Boone, who was raised by his mom Amy as a single parent since he was five-years-old. "And they're great mentors. I have so much respect for them it's incredible. I think they're the greatest coaches and the greatest men to talk to about football but also anything else that I've ever had a problem with I can go talk to them about.

"I talk to Coach Bollman a lot, weekly, and I have just the deepest respect for both of those men right now. And after seeing the Spring game and seeing how (Bollman) talks to his players and understanding that, I think I will learn a great deal from that man."

Boone knows the expectations of him will be very high when he eventually makes it to Ohio State in 2005.

"I'm hoping to go in there and do the best that I can and hopefully, God willing, I'll play very early," he said. "But as of now I'm just kind of worried about my senior year."

He thinks Buckeye fans will see more than just his mammoth size if they go and check him out at a high school game this year.

"I try to be an aggressive player like my brother but I don't think I am as aggressive as him," Boone said. "But this year I'm going to try to come out and be 110 percent more aggressive and I'm going to do everything I can to be more aggressive. Also I'm going to try to work on my footwork a little more and get a little faster, and hopefully my elbow will heal."

His older brother, J.J., is his biggest fan.

"I learned football from him. He taught me when I was real little to always lead with your head but he was a linebacker," Boone said. "I wish he could be here right now, but he's in the Marine Corps."

Like former NFL star Pat Tillman, Alex's brother gave up playing football to fight for a higher cause.

"He didn't want to play, he wanted to be a Marine," Boone said of his brother who's in boot camp now. "I think that he has a great deal of dedication in everything that he does, and he's probably one of the greatest role models I'll ever have. Obviously as a brother and a family I'm concerned, but I know he'll be having fun over (in Iraq) doing anything, so I wish him the best of luck."

J.J. is two grades older than his younger brother, and he was the kind of player that Alex only dreams of becoming.

"From my perspective, he was the top kid in the nation, by far. I think there was no linebacker that could match him," Boone said of his older brother. "I'm not trying to disrespect anybody, but that's just how brothers feel for each other. That kid was mean and you didn't want to cross his path."

Boone is trying to get mean like his brother by working out at the YMCA every morning.

"I'm up at 5 eating breakfast and I'm lifting at 6," he said. "I have a workout partner who holds a lot of world records for Olympic lifting so I lift with him all of the time. And then when I can I try to go on Saturdays after our linemen practices and work with my uncle. My uncle has two acres in his backyard and so this summer I'll be over there doing drills, going over pass pro, footsteps, running, agility and everything."

Although football is only a game and it's not the Marines or any other branch of the Armed Services, Boone is trying to be all that he can. His dreams are as large as his size 18 shoes.

"They are pretty big," said Boone who won't turn 17 until May 4. "Obviously there is Ohio State, but then there is even talk of after college, hopefully, God-willing, then the NFL. But I know I still have to work hard just until I get to Ohio State and then after that, we'll work from there."

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