That was the message delivered by OSU head coach Jim Tressel after Saturday's jersey scrimmage, which was won, 72-58, by the team's offense. With a quarterback battle that has seen three players vying to become the Buckeyes' top signal-caller for seven months now, Tressel said Boeckman would be the team's starter if the season began today.
It was the same message he delivered during spring football, as the more-experienced Boeckman has apparently fended off competition from sophomore Robby Schoenhoft and redshirt freshman Antonio Henton thus far.
While he said if he was not the starter on opening day it would not be a disappointment, Boeckman said he has adopted the mentality of a starting quarterback.
"I think you always have to (have that mentality)," he said. "You always want to go out there and know that you want to be the guy who's got to go out there and play."
He apparently did nothing to dispel the notion that he is the No. 1 starter during the scrimmage, which was closed to the media. Boeckman tossed two touchdown passes – one to Rory Nicol, the other to Jake Ballard – and, perhaps most importantly, threw no interceptions.
"I think he's progressing," Tressel said of Boeckman. "I think Todd Boeckman has moved forward significantly since spring practice as to his command of what we want to do."
While Schoenhoft tossed the only pick, Tressel said there could have been more. Conversely, he said he saw situations where the QBs simply threw the ball away rather than force an ill-advised pass or take a sack.
Schoenhoft has been characterized as more of a "rah-rah" vocal leader, while Boeckman seeks to inspire with his play.
"He gets fired up real easily, but I'm guy that's maybe more laid back," Boeckman said of Schoenhoft. "I'm going to lead by example rather than get all fired up and push the team."
The touchdown to Kacsandi was "40 to 50 yards," Schoenhoft said, and came on a deep post pattern. Dukes' catch was a red-zone touchdown that went for five yards and came on one of the final drives of the day.
"Robby, he's taking control of the offense and I think he has that attitude where he wants to be the leader, he wants to be the guy," Boeckman said. "He has that whole leadership thing about him. That's what you want in a quarterback."
Henton, who appears to remain firmly in place on the depth chart as the No. 3 quarterback, did not throw for any touchdowns or interceptions. Instead, he said his best play came on an audible he called at the line of scrimmage.
"On one of my checks, I didn't even have to throw the ball," he said. "I checked to a good play and I think (tailback Marcus Williams) broke it off for 20 yards or more."
Henton admitted to feeling like he is the No. 3 guy, but said that when he plays his NCAA Football 2008 video game, he goes with the elder statesman of the group as his starter.
"He's the leader on the game," he said. "I'm not going to lie – sometimes I'll put myself in there, but I try to be fair. The game is like real life."
In contrast to most practices since last season, none of the three quarterbacks wore the black jerseys signifying they were off-limits for defenders to hit. Boeckman said he was not knocked down very often.
"I never really got hit that tough today," he said. "I've got to give a lot of credit to the o-line. There weren't really any times when I took that big hit today."
During the scrimmage, first-, second- and third-team reps were split fairly evenly among Boeckman, Schoenhoft and Henton, although Boeckman received an extra set with the ones in contrast to Schoenhoft. Henton also gave way to freshman Joe Bauserman for one series with the threes.
While the reps have remained fairly even throughout spring and fall camps, Tressel said that will begin to change this week.
"By the middle of the week we'll probably start to hone that down," he said. "That latter half of next week, you really have to be more selective with who gets the opportunities."