COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coach Urban Meyer put out an APB for tough guys.
The search ended when Zach Boren turned himself in.
Injuries, departures and disappointing play led Ohio State’s coaches to look for somebody – anybody – to help out at linebacker.
They got a volunteer – their starting fullback.
It was kind of a test for the first four periods of practice that I watched, Meyer said of the trial period a week ago when he first tossed Boren into the mix on defense to see what would happen. He changed the entire dynamic of practice, because so much of playing football is the leadership value. Who is the tough guy on the defense?
Who is the guy that’s going to stand up and take charge?
Boren was the answer. Now the former star linebacker in high school has made the transition from offense to defense after three years on the other side with the Buckeyes. Not only that, he led the team in tackles in last week’s win at Indiana.
He’ll be in the starting lineup – at linebacker – when the seventh-ranked Buckeyes play host to Purdue today.
A week ago, he relied on his instincts because he didn’t really know what he was doing.
Defending the run game is all instincts, it’s just lining up, he said. But pass game, you really have to know your coverages and who you’re matching to. That’s the part you really have to know the defense inside and out. That was the hardest thing. I messed up a bunch of stuff, too.
Meyer says the move is temporarily permanent, whatever that means. There’s still a chance that Boren might get to carry the ball again. But, for now, he’s a linebacker. Luckily, his No. 44 is interchangeable at either position.