Boeckman will welcome Pryor#8217;s contributions
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman knows how strong a 1-2 punch at quarterback can be. He saw it firsthand when Florida’s Chris Leak and Tim Tebow carved up the Buckeyes’ defense in the 2007 BCS national championship game.
Boeckman, a fifth-year senior and returning starter, also knows he may have to similarly make room for highly touted freshman Terrelle Pryor.
‘‘He’s a special player, a special talent,’’ Boeckman said at the Big Ten pre-season kickoff conference last week. ‘‘I haven’t seen what he can do on the field, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do on Aug. 4.’’
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel landed perhaps the top recruit in the country in Pryor, a 6-foot-6 dual threat out of Pittsburgh. Still, Tressel is confident the reliable Boeckman will lead this team, picked again to win the Big Ten.
‘‘I think Ohio State is important to him and he’s going to lay it on the line for Ohio State,’’ Tressel said. ‘‘He did it as an 18-year-old and he’s doing now as a 35-year-old, or whatever he is. That’s why you root for him so hard.’’
Boeckman came out of tiny St. Henry in western Ohio, a football powerhouse in a town of just over 2,000 people. Tressel said they initially offered him a scholarship before his junior year in high school, in the summer of 2002, but later pulled back to pursue Brady Quinn, the Columbus, Ohio, native who ended up at Notre Dame. Boeckman ended up as a ‘‘grayshirt,’’ entering school as a part-timer before enrolling full time in the winter of 2004.
His perseverance paid off last season, when he was first-team all-conference, led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and took the Buckeyes to the BCS national championship game in New Orleans, where they lost to LSU. Now he’s had an off-season knowing that he’s No. 1 on the depth chart and his confidence is growing.
‘‘It’s definitely different than last year,’’ Boeckman said. ‘‘I’m more confident dealing with my teammates and more confident with my coaches. I think I can speak up and say things after what I’ve been through.’’
Boeckman has answered hours of questions about the situation, which could get sticky, but said he and Pryor already have a good relationship.
‘‘Going through 7-on-7 (drills), he’s been asking me questions, how to do this, how to do that,’’ Boeckman said. ‘‘It’s been helpful, and beneficial, for him.’’
Regardless of Pryor’s potential, Tressel isn’t ready to commit to any time-sharing under center.
‘‘We always say, regardless of the position or what year someone is, you get as your work deserves,’’ he said. ‘‘If Terrelle deserves to rotate in at quarterback (he will). The only little difference is at quarterback, there’s a rhythmic thing to work out.’’
But it’s not like Tressel hasn’t thought about it.
‘‘I’m as anxious as everybody to find out what it looks like,’’ he said.