Boren Displays His Athletic Abilities

When Ohio State accepted the transfer of former Michigan lineman Justin Boren into the program, it was assumed the verbal commitment from younger brother Zach Boren a throw-in as part of a package deal. But as the senior at Pickerington (Ohio) Central is proving, the Buckeyes have landed a versatile player with the ability to play several different positions.

Ohio State's coaching staff is recruiting Zach Boren as an athlete, as yet not assigning him a position to play in college.

After seeing the senior from Pickerington (Ohio) Central play, it is easy to see why. Boren did a little bit of everything in his team's 41-0 thrashing of visiting Westerville (Ohio) North on Sept. 5, helping his team remain undefeated on the young season despite only seeing action in three quarters.

In a contest where he saw playing time at fullback and linebacker, Boren found himself around the ball on nearly every play.

"I'll play either side (of the ball)," he told BuckeyeSports.com following the game. "That's what I do. I don't have a preference on what I do. I just want to help out the team."

That attitude is right in line with what Boren is hearing from the OSU coaching staff, which accepted a verbal commitment from him April 30.

"Right now they're recruiting me as an athlete," he said. "I'm going to go wherever I can help the team. I'm up for anywhere."

The 6-1, 255-pound Boren is ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 44 middle linebacker prospect by Scout.com. Against the Warriors, he finished with 10 tackles, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry but his most impressive play on defense came with the ball in his hands.

Playing in the middle of the field, Boren read the quarterback, tipped his pass with one hand and made an acrobatic interception. Rumbling downhill with the ball, he then picked up 19 yards and threw a stiff-arm on an opponent before eventually being dragged down.

"It's a newer thing," he said of the move. "My freshman year I worked on just running people over. That was good, but there's a certain extent where you can't get any more yards but when you start working on a stiff-arm you can break tackles easier. I worked on that this summer and it's definitely helped out a lot."

That stiff-arm came out again on offense a few possessions later. Faced with a third-and-3 situation, Boren took a handoff around the left end and stiff-armed the first defender to reach him. Not content to end the play there, he then spun off another defender and kept going, finally getting pulled down after a 24-yard pickup that put the Tigers close to the goal line.

"I had a great lead blocker," he said. "He just helped me get around the end and then the guy slid off another guy's block and I just gave him a little stiff-arm and I just kept running and got a lot of yards."

Often the lead blocker himself, Boren frequently had his defender pushed yards away from the play. Whether he is hitting an opponent while carrying the ball or blocking for someone else who is, Boren said he enjoys it.

"I love contact no matter what," he said. "When I block I love contact and hopefully pancaking a guy and when I run the ball there's still contact too.

"I just like going out and playing football, getting the fans involved and going out and making plays and just getting the whole team involved. I just love going out there on the field."

That focus has been aided by the fact that his recruitment has been wrapped up for nearly five months now. Not having to handle phone calls from college coaches and the pressure of trying to make a final decision has allowed Boren to focus on his senior season.

Aside from the Buckeyes, Boren is not receiving contact from any other schools. He speaks with OSU linebackers coach Luke Fickell and was visited at school the day of his team's game against North by OSU safeties coach Paul Haynes.

"They check up with us in the paper every week and send me letters every week telling me good job on the previous week," he said. "We talk about football and my season and their season. They don't' give us goals, but they keep in contact. They stay in contact with us and wish me luck."


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