But the 6-5, 235-pound Boeckman showed most practice onlookers that he could, indeed, play for the Buckeyes this season, if called upon. And he certainly looks good for whenever OSU calls his number down the line.
In the jersey scrimmage Aug. 21, Boeckman hit on 11 of his first 12 passes. Included in that hot stretch were spirals of 21 yards to Devon Lyons and 23 and 12 yards to Devin Jordan. Boeckman ended up completing 21 of 34 passes for 195 yards with an interception over the course of the day.
"Todd Boeckman's tough," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "I think he's getting better every day. Our goal in the quarterback room is to provide great quarterback play for the team, whether you're first unit, second unit, scout team, whatever. I couldn't be happier with Todd Boeckman. He's going to be a good one.
"Where can he climb? I don't know what's going to go on. But I feel good about his progress," Tressel said.
Tressel was high on Boeckman, a native of St. Henry, Ohio, even before camp began. Boeckman participated in preseason camp last year, then sat out and did not attend school full-time last fall. That allowed him to preserve a year of eligibility. He rejoined the team for bowl preparations and participated in spring ball.
"(Defensive coordinator) Mark Snyder said an interesting thing in a personnel meeting," Tressel said. "Mark said, `You know what's interesting about Todd, Todd did a better job at this stage on the scout team than Craig Krenzel did.' I had never heard that. Mark Snyder sees Todd Boeckman more than I do.
"He figures in. If I had a crystal ball to know that someone will sprain their ankle and Todd was going to get a million reps, I'd say to you, `Todd is going to figure in heavily.' But if I knew nobody was going to miss anything, I may say he may not have as many reps."
Boeckman has remained humble about his position on the squad.
"I definitely want to go out there and get the job done and do what I have to do," he said. "I want to do what the coaches say, go through my progressions and do what has to be done. I just want to go out there and feel comfortable. Once I get out there and get a few passes completed, I just want to keep on going and keep on rolling. Whatever is called, I just want to execute that."
Speaking after the scrimmage, Boeckman talked about his performance.
"I think I settled down," he said. "I think I hit a few nice passes and we made a few nice runs. The line did a nice job blocking for me and I was comfortable sitting in the pocket. A couple of times, I scrambled when maybe I didn't have to. But I think everything went well today. We have a lot of film to look at and I know I did a lot of things wrong, so we'll go back and look at that."
Boeckman's eligibility has been a carefully crafted plan. By sitting out in 2003 and redshirting this year, he would be eligible to play two years (2007-08) after Zwick and Smith have gone.
"I really don't know what to think about that," Boeckman said. "I know they wanted all the quarterbacks to throw the ball a lot (in the scrimmage). I'm sure the plan is for me to still redshirt because those two guys, Justin and Troy, they're unbelievable quarterbacks. I can't take anything away from them because they also had a great day today."
But that doesn't mean Boeckman plans to take any days off, either.
"I'm out there to push those guys to get better every day. You never know what could happen. If somebody gets hurt, I would be in the line of fire. You don't want that to happen. But we're all here to compete and have fun.
"Last year, I came in and I really didn't know much at all. But over the summer, I've watched a lot of film and been studying. I think coming into the season I have a lot better idea of what's going on. I still know I have a long way to go. I think I'll get there within a few years. It takes a while to learn this offense. There are a lot of plays in our offense. That playbook is really thick, and I think I'm getting a better grasp of it," he said.
Quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels has been pleased with Boeckman's progress.
"I'm really happy with Todd," Daniels said. "Every day, he learns a little bit more and gets a little bit better. He understands the offense better. He messes up a lot, so to speak, but it's because he's young and he hasn't had the number of snaps. He's only been around for one spring and one fall."
Daniels was asked about the possibility Boeckman could play this year. If he is needed to play because of injuries or other factors, he could still redshirt in either of the next two years to keep the plan intact.
"We'll leave that open," Daniels said. "We'll leave that up in the air. He and I have talked about that. I don't know."