Boone Came Back For Big Things

Alex Boone is the opposite of serious when it comes to most topics, but that is not true when it comes to the Ohio State football team he returned to despite the chance to leave early for the NFL after last season. The talkative Buckeye left tackle discussed his love of the team and his goals for 2008 this spring.

If there's one thing that has become clear to the media that covers the Ohio State football team over the past year, it's that Alex Boone isn't one to shy away from any topic.

The left tackle is a force of nature, a tornado of opinions, jokes and volume that is never short of words. A sample of some of the finer gems from Boone's time with the media this spring shows the wit and wisdom of the Lakewood, Ohio, native:

-- Into the television cameras when asked about missing right tackle Kirk Barton: "I miss him a lot. Kirk, I love you, if you're out there."

-- On the meeting in the shower at the Superdome during which the OSU juniors decided to return for another year: "That's where it started, in that special place."

-- On the missing member of that meeting: "No, Vern was already gone. He was in the taxi."

-- On where he is in his development: "Sitting in the Woody Hayes media center."

In other words, it's easy to see that the 6-8, 312-pounder isn't the most serious guy on the planet.

"I think I only get serious to a point," Boone said. "Obviously I take the game very seriously, but when I'm out there, it's just like anything else. It's a game. I try to have fun with it. There's times when I get angry and I get kind of into it and that's not when I play very well."

Football is serious business, but there is something to be said for a guy like Boone who is able to keep things light on a regular basis.

"He's still a jokester," said center Jim Cordle. He's still a great leader for us. We'll see how serious he gets, but he'll be a great leader for us."

There is precedent for a guy being quick with a quip and still possessing the traits necessary to be a leader; in fact, it goes back only a year. Barton was long a media favorite for his propensity to drop interesting sound bites, but no one questioned his dedication to the team or his ability to inspire teammates.

Boone, who very well might be a captain during his senior campaign after three years of starting, has similar traits, as evidenced by the love of his school that brought him back for a final chance at a ring.

"I can't let this team down," he said. "I'm a very emotional person, especially when it comes to this team. I love these guys. I couldn't leave like that."

As it turns out, the story of the guys deciding to return for the draft in the shower at the Superdome stands up to the test of truth. Players like James Laurinaitis, Brian Robiskie, Malcolm Jenkins and Malcolm Jenkins were considering a jump to the next level but just so happened to meet up after the game.

"We were like, ‘Hey, let's talk. Let's be open with each other. We don't have to lie to each other. We're best friends. We fight for each other.'" Boone said. "Guys were kind of like, ‘You know what, man, I'm coming back.'"

And Boone says that not a day goes by that he regrets the choice to put off professional ball for another year.

"Never," he said, "because if I lived my life in regret I would be an unhappy person. I'm happy about my decision. I came back for a reason."

It might be safe to assume that reason might include not just a return to the BCS title game but an actual triumph on college football's biggest stage. Though Boone is thought of as one of the best tackles around, a former five-star talent who was a second-team All-Big Ten pick last year, he's not resting on his laurels when it comes to preparing for the season.

"I don't think I'm even close to where I want to be," he said. "I have a lot to work on pass protection-wise. Running-wise I think you can always improve on that, but pass pro, I think I need to step my game up more. I'm figuring out some new stances. I'm doing some new things with my hand placement and how wide my set is and stuff like that."

If all goes well, the team success will be aided by individual success on a bigger scope than the All-Big Ten honors in the past.

"I have to be honest," he said. "I've always wanted to be an All-American. I've always pushed myself to do what I can. The Outland Trophy – these are things that my family, they expect me to do."

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