Fresh off of the NFL Draft, there is plenty of coverage and content out there regarding former Buckeye stars looking to make a name for themselves at the next level. You will undoubtedly see and hear plenty about Justin Fields’ chances of winning the starting QB nod in Chicago, Jonathon Cooper’s medicals, or Trey Sermon’s role in the San Francisco backfield. But what about the guys who will never participate in rookie minicamp? The guys who are instead working on their LinkedIn profile and filling out job applications?
Contrary to how it sometimes seems, not every difference-making football player at Ohio State will go on to have success in the NFL. In fact, it is a small group that even makes it onto a Week One roster.
However, just because a former player fades away from the spotlight, it does not mean they should be forgotten. Some of the most important moments and memories from the last 20 years can be attributed to the players whose careers ended with a bowl game.
This is a series acknowledging forgotten Buckeyes; an ode to the players without pictures and plaques hanging in The Horseshoe. These guys all played a pivotal role in historic Ohio State moments, and should be remembered for their special contributions to OSU football.
Todd Boeckman | Quarterback (2005-08)
By reading this, you now know the answer to the question. Test your friends or a random fan, and ask them to name the last five quarterbacks to start a BCS or CFP National Championship Game.
I am sure they will start with the most recent, Justin Fields… too easy! Cardale Jones. Cinderella story, no problem. How about Craig Krenzel or Troy Smith? Well Krenzel led the 2002 team to an improbable national title over the juggernaut of Miami, and Smith won a Heisman trophy despite a humbling loss in the 2006 BCS title game.
All four of the previously mentioned players hold a firm spot in Ohio State history. What if I were to remind you that the fifth QB stood 6-foot-5, weighed 240 pounds, was named first team All-Big Ten, and threw for 25 touchdowns on his way to a BCS National Championship Game appearance? Ring a bell?
Todd Boeckman is remembered by many as… well, no he’s not usually remembered, to be honest. Boeckman originally committed to Ohio State in 2002, only to redshirt and grayshirt in 2003 and 2004. He was the backup to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith for two years before he finally earned a shot heading into the 2007 season. Now in his fifth year with the program, he frankly did not face a lot of completion for the starting gig. The quarterbacks he beat out were Rob Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton; not exactly a who’s who of OSU royalty.
Boeckman seized the opportunity, and enjoyed great success. He was a big-bodied pocket passer, and possessed a fairly strong arm. He spent an eternity in the program, learning Jim Tressel’s offense in and out. Tressel further helped his QB by building a strong running game around him, led by Heisman contender Beanie Wells.
Boeckman’s most impressive performance of the season came on the road at Penn State. During one of PSU’s infamous white-outs, he accounted for all of OSU’s offensive touchdowns (3), and quieted a raucous crowd by leading the Buckeyes to a decisive 37-17 victory.
The season was nearly ruined two weeks later, when Ohio State was upset by Juice Williams and Illinois. A home loss against an unranked conference team could have been the final nail in the coffin for Boeckman’s improbable run. However, the team would bounce back against TTUN, and regain the No. 1 BCS ranking shortly thereafter. The now battle-tested Boeckman went on to earn all-league credentials for his play.
Unfortunately, his run of success came to an end on Jan. 7, 2008, when the top-ranked Buckeyes were defeated for the BCS title by No. 2 LSU. Boeckman threw two picks and took five sacks, as LSU jumped on OSU early and never looked back.
As a sixth year senior in 2008, he would only go on to win two more games as the starting quarterback. After throwing for two picks and less than 100 yards against USC in the third game of the season, he lost the job to freshman sensation Terrelle Pryor. There was no timeshare. There were very few mop-up duty appearances. Game, set, match: Pryor.
Boeckman likely never would have predicted that he would be sitting on his ass only months after an all-league selection and title game appearance. Life comes at you fast, especially in college football.
To his credit, and unlike many players today, Boeckman hung in admirably as a teammate in 2008. He was named a captain at the beginning of the year, and often sat with fellow captains for postgame pressers, even though he was usually parked on the bench for the duration of that game. He mentored and cheered on Pryor, even throwing him a touchdown in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. A gadget play touchdown to the guy who took your job? Like J. Cole said, “Ain’t that some shit?”
Not every player would have handled the situation with such class. Boeckman essentially rode off into the sunset after that Fiesta Bowl. He was a camp body for a few NFL teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, but never made it onto a roster. Once Pryor took his job, he became an anonymous QB.
But Todd Boeckman deserves to be remembered and revered. Not many guys can say they led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a national title game appearance and/or earned all-league honors in the same season!
Maybe Boeckman didn’t put up video game numbers, but his 2007 season was a hell of an accomplishment. He helped keep OSU in the limelight, and almost won a natty along the way! We should all put some respect on Boeckman’s name, and appreciate his place in history.