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Friday, March 15, 2013
Boren adds long snapping to repertoire

By Austin Ward

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just in case there wasn’t enough versatility for scouts to consider already, Zach Boren decided to add some.

There is no shortage of film on what the former Ohio State captain can do at fullback after spending the majority of his career throwing his body around as a blocker and building himself into perhaps the best player at the position in the Big Ten.

While there’s not as much to work with on the defensive side of the ball, Boren also has those six productive games at linebacker to highlight on his resume after his stunningly effective switch in the middle of his senior season.

But after weighing in lighter than he expected and then posting some workout numbers that didn’t meet his standards last month at the NFL combine, Boren went searching for one more way he could perhaps boost his stock and market himself to as broad an audience as possible. And instead of just heading to the draft as a possible two-way player, now Boren can now go a third direction as a prospective long snapper.

Zach Boren
Zach Boren performed surprisingly well after a midseason switch from fullback to linebacker.
“I just picked it up,” Boren said. “It was one of those things where I came back from the combine and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to figure out something else I can do with the kind of stuff I put up.’

“I did a little bit in high school, but never in a game. Just kind of a backup guy, and I was listed this past year as a backup, too -- until I went out for a practice and Coach [Urban] Meyer nixed that pretty quick.”

The idea is back on the table now, though, and Boren is embracing anything that could help him get drafted and earn an NFL roster spot as he moves on from the Buckeyes.

The focus is largely on what Boren can bring as a physical blocker who can also make plays in the passing game out of the backfield or carry the ball in short-yardage situations, and there’s plenty of evidence that suggests he can be a useful player at fullback.

There apparently hasn’t been as much conversation about Boren being used defensively despite closing his college career there. He made 50 tackles in six games after moving to linebacker when Ohio State was scrambling for bodies at the position in the middle of its unbeaten season. There also hasn’t been all that much time yet for feedback on his snapping, as Boren went to work with one of his old high school coaches at Pickerington (Ohio) Central for a special-teams crash course.

Boren’s own assessment was that his attempts on pro day “weren’t very good” thanks to the exhaustion from all the work he’d already done at his natural position on offense, but the willingness to do as many things as possible to get on the field is rarely anything but a positive for pro scouts.

“It’s something that I’ll definitely keep on working on and will have in my repertoire,” Boren said. “To tell you the truth, I kind of wanted to [participate in defensive drills], just to go out there and show people what I can do on defense and show people that I’m not just some stiff fullback.

“It would be a dream come true if someone were to give me a shot at linebacker at the next level, but a lot of people are just talking to me about fullback. Honestly, I’ll do whatever. It’s kind of like I’m at the point where I’m in college again -- I’ll do whatever it takes to help out the team and make a roster.”