The thought of Boren earning a starting position is probably quite surprising to anyone that follows Ohio State football closely, but this isn't a surprise to the young man himself.
Greene: Zach, how are you doing making the adjustment from high school to Ohio State?
Boren: "It's definitely different coming from high school and going against one or two great players every game, to Ohio State, where every single player on the roster is exceptional. I've always been a guy who knows I have to be the hardest worker on the roster to succeed, and being at Ohio State means I have to work even harder. I really believe the biggest change is being mentally prepared to compete every day. There are a lot of meetings that cover all the plays, and all the different schemes we run here. It can drag you down mentally if you're not focused and concentrating every day. It's really rough, but I enjoy challenges and I don't back down from anything."
Greene: What position are you playing right now?
Boren: "I was at middle linebacker when I first got here, but they switched me to fullback when we came back from summer break. So as of now, I am a fullback."
Greene: How do you feel about the position switch?
Boren: "Again, it's another challenge I have to face head on, and I'm always up for that. My main asset is my total willingness to help the team, in any way the coaches want. I totally support my coaches and my teammates, and I would do anything if it helped Ohio State win. I'm going to play wherever they put me and I'm going to have fun doing it. I really have no preference on what position I play. I just want to play football."
Greene: What is your current height and weight, and what type of physical shape are you in?
Boren: I'm 6-1 and I weigh right around 250 pounds. I was about 245 pounds when I got here. I haven't added a lot of weight, but my strength is way up and I've dropped some body fat. I think I'm in great shape and I always consider myself a workout fanatic. I blew my knee out during my last game in high school, and I gained some weight because I couldn't work out during the healing process. I've spent the past five or six months just trying to get that back in shape. I wouldn't mind dropping a few pounds to improve my quickness. At fullback, I think I would be best at around 240 pounds."
Greene: You weren't available to take contact in the spring. How have you been able to get yourself healthy enough to play this fall?
Boren: "I couldn't do anything football-wise last spring, so all I did was rehab my knee. In late June the doctors released me for contact and said I was 100 percent. I'm trying to get myself in the best shape I can possible be in, so I can get out on the field and be a contributor. I learned that I have a pretty high pain tolerance and I think that's why I've been able to come so quickly from this type of knee injury."
Greene: This might be a tough question to answer at this point, but do you see yourself playing this season, or taking a redshirt?
Boren: "I hope to play this year, but that's really up in the air right now. I'm preparing every day as though I'm going to be the starter and I think every player on the roster should approach it that way. I want to get out on the field and help this team win more than anything in the world, but I go by what our coaches think. These are great coaches and they wouldn't be at Ohio State if they weren't. I trust these coaches explicitly and whatever they do is fine with me. Hopefully, I can impress them enough so that they feel I should be playing."
Greene: Will you be involved in any of the special team play?
Boren: "We are just starting to put all that in right now. I'm in on the depth charts on all the units, but I'm going against experienced guys who did that last year. It's going to be tough for me to take any of those spots away from those guys but I'm going to try my best. Whatever happens is fine with me, but I love special teams because I like all the hitting and the speed of the plays. There are always guys flying at you from all angles and it's a lot of fun."
Greene: Zach, as we look two or three years down the road, what do you have to do to be a contributing member of this football team?
Boren: "It sounds kind of canned, but it's really all about hard work. There are days when every football player just doesn't want to work out, but you have to constantly push yourself and motivate yourself to never miss a day. There are times you just want to relax and have a day away from all of it, but you can't do that. You need to realize that there are players somewhere in this country working out, and they want your spot. When I push myself, I'm also pushing my teammates to be better, and the same goes for them making me better. That's what a team is all about. I'm not the most talented athlete out there so I need to make up the difference by making myself bigger, stronger and faster than the people I go up against."
Greene: Coming out of high school guys like me didn't have you ranked all that high. Does that motivate you at all?
Boren: "[Laughing] Actually, you had me ranked higher than most of the other recruiting guys. Seriously, yes, it does motivate me. It motivates me a lot. That has happened to me my entire life and it just adds fuel to my fire. I don't let people's opinions bring me down, rather I use it to prove them wrong. It makes me work that much harder to show people that I'm a good football player, and that guys like me help teams win games, not through great statistics, but through great effort and determination. Guys like me can't afford to get down on themselves because of rankings. We need to use those rankings to drive us to be better than even we thought we could be."
Greene: I thought I was going to get through this interview without mentioning your father and brother, but I can't do it. How has being from the Boren family helped you? And has it hurt you in any way being compared to your father or brother?
Boren: "It definitely has not hurt me in any way. There's a little bit of pressure trying to live up to the family name, but it's the kind of pressure I like. My dad has coached Justin and I so much that we know how to handle pressure. My dad's coaching has us so ready, mentally and physically, for every game, that I couldn't imagine not being from this family. He knows the game so well that if we do something wrong he lets us know before our position coaches do. He's right there on our tails, telling us what we did wrong, and how to correct it. I would not be in this position without my dad's coaching and my brother inspiring me to be like him."
Greene: Look back at your life five years ago, and tell me what were the odds that you and Justin would both be playing for Ohio State in 2009?
Boren: "That's easy. The odds would be zero. I would have never dreamed this scenario in my craziest dreams. I saw Justin becoming an All-American at Michigan, and I never saw myself good enough to be at a school like Ohio State. This is really a great experience for Justin and I, and my entire family. I'm going to enjoy every moment."
Greene: What do you want to do with your degree some day?
Boren: "I want to use my degree and get into the field of special education. I also want to be a high school football coach. I want to be able to be in a position to touch as many lives as I can, and hopefully make people's lives a little bit better. My mom is a physical therapist and she works with handicapped kids, so that's why I have such a passion for special education. I'd like to be able to make a difference in the lives of young people some day."