Being a captain means putting teammates and coaches above oneself, and during his senior year at Ohio State, Zach Boren did something midway through the 2012 season that showed he always puts his team first.
A player who started 30 games at fullback in his first three-and-a-half years, Boren switched to linebacker once the team suffered a rash of injuries.
“I started at age five playing linebacker, and then, when I went to college, I went to fullback, and then, I went back to linebacker,” Boren said at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. “Now, I’m going back to fullback. I’ve made a couple switches, but I kind of think they’re the same position. You have to have the same mentality playing fullback and linebacker, and you’ve just got to love to hit people, and that’s what I love to do.”
Boren caught five passes for 42 yards, including a long reception of 14 yards before switching to linebacker. He finished the year with 50 tackles, an average of 8.3 tackles per game, and registered his first career sack in a win over the University of Michigan.
Boren said playing fullback aided in his transition to linebacker.
“It helped me out a lot, just because I knew what the fullback was thinking, but at the same time, that’s what helped me my first three years playing fullback,” Boren said. “I grew up playing linebacker, so I knew exactly the instincts and reads that linebackers were going to have and what we were thinking. I think that’s what made me become successful as a fullback, and when I turned around and jumped to the other side of the ball, it’s just the same thing.
“You’ve got to have an understanding of the offense. You’ve got to understand why fullbacks are doing this or that, and why offenses work. When you’re on the defensive side of the ball and you see stuff coming at you, it’s easier to react.”
Boren, who battled through right knee issues throughout his career, but got a clean bill of health at the Combine, worked out as a fullback/running back in front of the NFL scouts. However, he said switching back to defense would be something he is comfortable with in the future.
“I would love to,” Boren said of returning to linebacker. “If a team thought I had the capability of doing that, and thought I had the skill to do that, I would love to. I played six weeks of last season at linebacker, and I felt like every week, I was getting stronger, learning the system more and getting a feel for it. If somebody gave me the opportunity to play linebacker again, I would love to.”