NFL Combine Notebook: Feb. 21

What do a few players who faced Alex Boone think of his abilities? What do a pair of Michigan Men think of Justin Boren and his transfer to Ohio State? What song does Ray Maualuga sing to James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman? The answers to these questions are more are in this notebook as BSB brings you the latest from the NFL Scouting Combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – His stock might continue to fall, but a number of defensive linemen who opposed Alex Boone during their careers sung the praises of the embattled former Ohio State left tackle at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Former Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin was asked about the best offensive lineman he has gone against in his career, and he did not hesitate in his response of Alex Boone.

"That's a great kid," he said. "We're real good friends. He's a heck of an athlete. It's tough trying to stop the run against him. He's a real physical guy. It was a battle every time we butted heads."

Asked about Boone's skills, former Texas outside linebacker Brian Orakpo also cited his run-blocking capabilities.

"He was a very, very physical guy," Orakpo said. "I think he's a great run blocker. He's a good pass rusher but obviously everybody has something they can work on and improve. He was a great player and I wish the best for him. I know his whole ordeal but I wish the best for him."

However, Maybin left no doubt when asked who would win the majority of the battles between the two.

"Me, of course," he said with a laugh.

Michigan Men: After enduring a program-worst 3-9 season in the first year under head coach Rich Rodriguez, four Wolverines received invitations to the combine. Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor said there was a night-and-day difference between Rodriguez and how former coach Lloyd Carr run things, but said it was up to the seniors to buy into the new system quickly.

To that end, both Taylor and defensive end Tim Jamison felt the year was a success.

"You had to buy in because if we didn't buy in, the underclassmen wouldn't," Taylor said. "We bought into the things he said and wanted to do. It just didn't turn out like everybody envisioned."

As the losses piled up, both players said that task became more difficult.

"We knew we had a young offense and knew we had to work hard," Jamison said. "I'm proud of the way they kept going to practice hard. They worked hard even though we were losing. They could've given up."

"A lot of people sacrificed a lot because we knew how the season could turn out, and even though it did turn out the worst way I'm still proud of everybody I played with and I'm going to miss them," Taylor said.

That does not appear to go to former Michigan offensive lineman Justin Boren. After leaving the program while citing and erosion of family values in the process, Boren transferred to arch-rival Ohio State and sat out a year to satisfy transfer rules.

Jamison said he wishes Boren the best but added that he never could have done such a thing, while Taylor went further.

"Personally? He ain't my brother because he went to Ohio State," Taylor said. "I'm a Michigan man. No. He made his choice. He's a good player. He's my friend. But brothers? No. Tim Jamison is my brother. The guys that stayed – those who stay will be champions. He didn't stay. I'm a Michigan man and he's a Buckeye."

Name That Tune: As former OSU linebackers James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman headed from their hotel to Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 21, they walked side by side with former USC linebacker Ray Maualuga.

Despite the fact that the Trojans decisively defeated the Buckeyes in week three of the 2008 season, the linebackers from both squads have struck up a few friendships. However, that does not mean that the final outcome of that game has been forgotten.

"Once in a while Ray will sing his fight song, but it's all in fun and we know at this next level we're either going to be teammates or opponents," Freeman said, "but I think you always keep that college alma mater in your heart. That's something I'll always be proud of."

Asked about it, Maualuga grinned.

"They are guys that don't take it too hard," he said. "If anything, they'll laugh along with me. I'll sing it here and there. They said during the whole week of preparation their strength coach played our fight song the whole week just trying to get them pumped up. I'll give them some trash here and there but it's all love. I still respect them."

Triumph Over Adversity: Many OSU fans are still experiencing memories of the Florida Gators soundly taking home the 2007 BCS National Championship game at the expense of the Buckeyes. Florida's Percy Harvin was on two national championship teams during his tenure with the Gators including this past season's title, and he said one was more gratifying than the others.

Buckeye fans, you can exhale.

"I know this year we went through a lot, not only me but my teammates had a lot of off-the-field issues," he said. "We had a lot of deaths in our families; a lot of people lost their moms. To overcome that and stand strong at the end, I think I would say this year because we handled a lot of adversity."


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