Signing Day A Family Affair For Borens

The fact that there would be two Borens, Zach and Justin, attending Ohio State has been known for months, but the final marker in the family's transformation came Wednesday on National Signing Day. Members of the family discussed their new school with

If it was going to take a cold day in … you know where … for two Boren kids to play football at Ohio State, the 13-degree temperature the morning of National Signing Day surely qualifies.

Though the ceremony at Pickerington Central High School was at most perfunctory, considering that graduate Zach Boren already has been taking classes at Ohio State for a month, it did serve as the final milepost on the way to making the suburban Columbus family scarlet and gray.

"If you would have asked me a year ago today, I would have said there's no way in … you know what … that it would happen," father Mike Boren said. "But it happened."

What happened was the change the family underwent from one that would don maize and blue on Saturdays – well heck, on most days – to the Buckeye colors.

Mike Boren was a Michigan man all the way, playing for the legendary Bo Schembechler from 1980-83. A year ago at this time, his son Justin Boren was an offensive guard preparing for his junior season as a Wolverine.

Everyone with a passing interest knows the story of what has happened since. Michigan's hire of Rich Rodriguez to replace Lloyd Carr as head coach led Justin, famously citing the disintegration of the program's "family values," to declare that he was leaving the program in late March.

A month later, the brothers Justin and Zach were reconnected, as the elder Boren – in a move that may have seemed unthinkable at the time – was accepted as a transfer at Ohio State followed by Zach's verbal commitment.

Since then, the two have since become teammates because of Zach's enrollment at the school in early January.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Zach said. "We played together once in high school and I was a great feeling, but just to play for Ohio State and play for Big Ten and national championships, it's going to be amazing."

The story has come to a head because of Justin's acrimonious departure from Michigan, but the eldest Boren nearly took a more conventional route to get to Ohio State.

When Justin, a five-star offensive lineman in the class of 2006, was looking at schools early in his recruitment, he began by favoring Ohio State thanks to an early offer from the Buckeyes despite the fact that he grew up a Michigan fan.

But a visit to Michigan in March 2005 started to shift the winds. There, Boren had a number of questions about Michigan answered, but most importantly, he had a sit-down, heart-to-heart talk with Schembechler.

By the time his May decision came around, Boren decided to keep the family legacy alive by picking the Wolverines.

"It all started when Justin was getting recruited," Zach said. "He was thinking hard about Ohio State – really, really hard. For a second we thought that was where he was going, and then we all kind of had a family talk and he kind of put stuff off. Then Bo talked to him and he went to Michigan.

"It could have happened three years ago, but for it to happen now, it's a blessing to be in Columbus where we grew up and to be playing for Ohio State, such a prestigious college like that. It's definitely come full circle and I know everyone in the Boren family is just excited to wear and the scarlet and gray now."

In fact, both Mike and Hope Boren, the players' mother, were wearing scarlet at signing day activities. Mike was sporting a black Ohio State polo shirt that probably came from his new collection that a number of family members bought for him for Christmas.

"It took a while to get used to slipping them on," he said, "but every day it gets easier and easier. I'm very proud of my boys. I mean, I'm very proud. I'm going to be rooting for the Buckeyes."

Hope nearly teared up while discussing what it meant to have her sons playing at Ohio State while addressing the media later at the university's signing day press conference.

"As a family, we're very, very fortunate to be here. We love the Buckeyes, Columbus, Ohio and Central Ohio. We're very fortunate to have a university of this stature here," she said. "I know my kids are happy here. I think they'll be successful here, and I want to thank Coach Tressel and staff."

Jim Tressel and his staff have liked to talk of the Ohio State football team as a family affair over the past few years. Who knew that the last name of that family could very well be Boren?

Buckeye Sports Top Stories