Teammates Say Boeckman Dealing With Change

While much of the talk about the Ohio State football team over the past few days has centered on the talent brought to the table by new starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, former starter Todd Boeckman has slipped into the background. Many of his teammates have said that while there he's doing his best to keep supporting the squad.

One would have to assume that right now is not one of the better times in Todd Boeckman's life.

The Ohio State quarterback has gone, in four weeks' time, from the starter of an Ohio State football team ranked second in the nation to start the season to a backup who was booed by some members of the Buckeye fanbase Saturday afternoon when his lone pass bounced well short of intended receiver Brian Hartline.

With that in mind, it wouldn't be hard to expect Boeckman to be moping around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. However, that hasn't been the case, according to almost every Ohio State player the media has been able to talk to since freshman Terrelle Pryor started his first career game Saturday against Troy.

In fact, many of Boeckman's fellow elder statesmen of the team have said that the way the sixth-year player has handled the situation has helped everyone on the team deal with the sudden change.

"It could be a distraction if Todd wasn't handling it so well," offensive lineman Jim Cordle said. "He's got a great attitude and a team player. He wants to see the team do its best. He was really happy with the way Terrelle played."

Most Ohio State fans felt the same way, as Pryor tied the Ohio State season record for first-year players with four touchdown passes during the Buckeyes' 28-10 win over Troy. On the flip side was Boeckman, who received just two snaps, checking into a handoff once and then skipping his lone pass to Hartline.

After the game, head coach Jim Tressel said that he wished he had gotten Boeckman more chances but didn't feel as though a change should be made given the game situations.

"In fact, I showed him my sheet I had written out, and I had a whole column of Todd things that I wanted him to be able to do today," Tressel said. "We were talking, he and I, in the third quarter and I said, ‘Hey, I wish we would have been able to do these,' but didn't feel like that was what the team needed at that point."

Boeckman's effect still was felt on the sideline, especially when it came to helping his fall camp roommate, Pryor, make plays.

"Some of those touchdown throws that you saw out there, he helped me out on," Pryor said. "When I threw that touchdown on that last one (to Hartline), he said, ‘I was hoping you went there because it was open.' He's still talking to me.

"Every time I make a bad throw or a good throw he's still on me, and I just appreciate that a lot."

Boeckman has made few public comments since the game that seemed to signal Pryor's ascendance to the starting role. As a team captain, he joined seniors Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis and Brian Robiskie on the interview dais after the game and made an opening statement noting that he was proud the team was able to come out with the win.

He later was asked how he was dealing with his de facto demotion.

"First of all, after getting a win like this against a great team, that's great, and I'm really excited about that," he said before being the only captain unavailable for unmoderated interviews. "I'm happy for Terrelle. He had a great day. He did some great things out there. He's getting better every time he's out there and he made some great plays out there. I'm excited for this team and for him."

As the Buckeyes have lapsed into their first week of practice with Pryor as the public starter, Boeckman's teammates have continued to say that the senior's attitude is helping to keep the team together.

"If Todd was moping around (saying) ‘This isn't fair, this isn't right,' and complaining to people, then people are going to start to think the same thing," offensive lineman Alex Boone said. "But he's doing great. He's supporting Terrelle and Terrelle is supporting him. The guys see that, and we want the best for both of those guys."

That's a lesson Boeckman likely has learned throughout his life. Growing up in St. Henry, Ohio, Boeckman learned a team perspective from his father Tim, a legendary high school football coach in the pigskin-crazy town. Boeckman also learned patience while in the lead up to joining the Ohio State team while grayshirting during the 2003 season.

He's also been primed, like all Buckeye upperclassmen, by the coaching staff for the possibility that a younger player could take his job. Safety Kurt Coleman said that the staff before the season mentions the possibility that reduced productivity could result in a younger player taking over and then asks each player how they would respond.

"Everybody's just like, ‘You have to make everyone better,' and that's where Todd is," Coleman said.

Tressel knows that he can't afford to lose Boeckman, pointing out Tuesday how difficult it is to get through a Big Ten season without needing some help from a backup quarterback. Even the great Rex Kern needed to be spelled at times by Bill Long and Ron Maciejowski as the Buckeyes rolled up Big Ten titles from 1968-70.

The good news for the Buckeyes is that Boeckman appears committed to recapturing the form that made him a first-team All-Big Ten choice with 25 touchdowns against 14 interceptions a year ago.

"The best thing about Todd is, No. 1, he prefaces everything with he wants to win," Tressel said. "No. 2, he wants to do all he can do, and he'd love to do more on the field. If he felt any other way, I'd be nervous, but he's going to press on."

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