Zach Boren has played fullback for Ohio State for three seasons, and just as his senior year was under way, he swapped sides of the ball and is the Buckeye’s new linebacker. When Boren wears his jersey on Saturdays, it truly is to represent the name on the front, not the back; his selflessness will help the Buckeyes stay undefeated this season.
While he’s played fullback since 2009 for the Buckeyes, his only considerable yardage has been receiving; he hasn’t been an offensive threat, but he’s been a quarterback’s best friend. He’s practically been a starter since beginning his Ohio State career, and was awarded the team’s Outstanding First-Year Offensive Player award in 2009.
Something his teammates refer to often is Boren’s incredible talent for blocking. In 2011, Boren was honored with the team’s Rex Kern Award as the team’s outstanding back because of his powerful blocking ability. Many big plays over the years were quietly aided by a Boren block at some point on the field.
Plagued by injuries throughout the year, Ohio State’s defense needed help quickly. During this season’s game against Indiana, after another linebacker injury, Boren took the field for the defense. It didn’t take him long to get back in the swing of things, leading the Buckeyes with eight tackles that game. He knew the position well, as he played it locally at Pickerington High School; ironically he switched to fullback when he came on at Ohio State because of the strong line-backing core the Buckeyes already had in place.
When he played high school ball, his senior year, he earned Ohio’s defensive player of the year. He was the Number 2 baseball player in the state coming out of high school but Buckeye football ran through his blood. Though both of his parents were athletes at Michigan, his older brother Justin Boren played football for Ohio State and his younger player now plays for OSU too.
Watching Boren play linebacker is inspiring; I love watching a big play or quarterback sack, and seeing Boren was in on it. With the defensive struggles this year, Boren was the perfect leader to energize his teammates. Just last spring he had the opportunity to play for the Ohio State baseball team, but he stayed with the football program to try to help learn the new offense under head coach Urban Meyer and help teach and guide the younger players joining the team.
The mentality of Boren is that he will do whatever he can to help his teammates and coaches have the best season possible.
“I’ll go back there and play safety or put on weight and play center if I have to,” Boren said.
Not only has he made the switch to linebacker, but he’s done so successfully; Buckeye Nation can rest a little easier knowing that when they see him take the field, we are still in good hands. He is in on every play, and has made key tackles and blocks that without which the Buckeyes may not be undefeated.
This is an unprecedented season for Ohio State football; as we’ve seen time and time again, the leadership of certain players (like Boren and Guiton) makes a world of difference on the grid iron.