Up & Adam: Todd Boeckman's Last Stand

Todd Boeckman has come a long way during his career, and another chapter in his story will be written this Saturday. In this editorial, BuckeyeSports.com writer Adam Jardy offers his thoughts on where Boeckman has come from and where he might be headed.

ST. HENRY, OHIO – There's an old saying that in order to learn where you are going, you have to first understand where you have come from.

It was with that thought in mind that I stood on the 50-yard line of the football field that is the biggest part of the Wally Post Athletic Complex in on a cold Tuesday afternoon in November. A fine layer of the first snowfall of the season partially covered the grass, and I could see my breath in the cold sunshine as I surveyed my footprints leading to midfield.

A couple hundred feet to the west sits the town's high school, a recently renovated building that boasts a deep football heritage. It's the kind of place where the history hits you immediately upon entrance. By now, the names of the two most famous Redskins are well-known to Ohio State football fans, and pictures of Bob Hoying and Jim Lachey dot several impressive trophy cases immediately upon entering the school.

Their jerseys are emblazoned on the back side of the scoreboard, as is that of former Penn State Nittany Lion Jeff Hartings. The press box on the home sidelines looks as if it would comfortably hold about four occupants, and the vast fields surrounding the area give the impression that this could be a cold stadium even in late August.

Aside from the scoreboard, there is little that sets this natural-grass playing surface apart from hundreds of fields across the country. Besides all the talent that has called his field home, that is.

Three days from this date and about 150 miles east of this sleepy town, another of the school's alumni will be taking the field for the final time as an Ohio State Buckeye. Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan game will be an emotional one for Todd Boeckman, a senior captain whose starting position was usurped by a talented freshman.

Heading into the game, Boeckman's teammates are outspoken in their admiration for how he has handled the situation this season. The suggestion that he should start the game against the Wolverines has been floated but by and large has been shot down.

"I'm not going to say he should," senior cornerback and captain Malcolm Jenkins said. "It would be nice to see Todd go out on his senior day and get a snap. But that's not up to us. It would be a nice gesture. Todd will do whatever he has to do to help us win and he'll be happy regardless of what happens."

Just a few years ago, Boeckman was a prep star on this very field at St. Henry. It is a town that seems to breed athletes in all sports.

Just a few weeks ago, Boeckman was a college star on the hallowed field of Ohio Stadium. It is a school that boasts some of the top athletic talent in the country.

By now, his odyssey is fairly well known. A grayshirt season was followed by a redshirt one, and he then bided his time behind a Heisman Trophy winner before taking the starting reins as a junior and leading the Buckeyes to a national championship game.

Returning for his second and final year as a starter, Boeckman instead lost the reins on the job and gave way to freshman Terrelle Pryor by the fourth week of the season. In his first appearance after losing the starting title, Boeckman bounced his lone pass attempt and was showered with boos as he trotted back to the sideline.

His parents have politely declined all interview requests since their son's demotion. Boeckman himself has been brought out for a handful of interview sessions but has largely wiled away his senior season in obscurity.

Standing at midfield where Boeckman's potential seemed limitless, it is easy to picture the cheers raining down from packed stands on a chilly Friday night. Today, the field is covered with snow and a biting wind prevents anyone from spending much time out in the open.

On Nov. 22, Boeckman will take the field one last time at Ohio Stadium. Has he gotten a fair shake? The answer to that question depends largely upon who is being asked.

"I think I've grown a new respect for him," senior linebacker Marcus Freeman said of Boeckman. "I know how talented he is. We all know how talented he is, but right now he's not the No. 1 guy. He's still a captain and he leads us and we all respect him and great things are still in store for him."

Whether those great things will materialize this weekend, during OSU's subsequent bowl game or perhaps at the NFL Scouting Combine remains to be seen.

This time of the year, the field at St. Henry is empty and quiet. This Saturday, the field at Ohio Stadium will be as loud as it has ever been.

Todd Boeckman has had his struggles, but he has succeeded on both fields. Sometimes, though, that is not enough to write a happy ending.


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