By Gary R. Rasberry
ST. HENRY -- The 2004 football season has been one of steps for Todd Boeckman.
The St. Henry native has jumped from being the scout team quarterback to second string for Ohio State this season.
Monday, Boeckman got the call that he is the number two again after the university suspended starting quarterback Troy Smith for undisclosed violations.
That means Boeckman will be on the brink of making his first official appearance on the field for the Buckeyes at the Alamo Bowl next week should anything happen to starting quarterback Justin Zwick.
It's a role that Boeckman, a redshirt freshman, has been used to this season. When Zwick went down with injuries earlier this season, Boeckman moved up to second string. Before that, Boeckman ran the scout team, running the offense of the upcoming opponenets for Ohio State. "You have to prepare yourself because you never know what will happen," said Boeckman while home for the holidays before the team took off Wednesday for San Antonio. "There are going to be injuries. I go in every week thinking 'Hey, I might have a shot.' You never know when one of those two might go down."
The change from third team to second team forced Boeckman to change his style. Instead of running the foe's offense to get the defense ready, now he ran the Buckeyes offense.
It was a big change for Boeckman.
"When Justin went down, I think it was in week five, I went to number two there," said Boeckman. "I had to refocus myself and do what I had to do to know the offense and what they're running that week. Going into the other weeks, I was the scout team quarterback. It was different, because your mentality wasn't the same as being the number two. As number two, you have to know everything and any little thing that has to happen to work out."
Boeckman had been home and was looking to run the Oklahoma State offense to prepare the defense when the phone rang Monday afternoon.
"One of my roommates called me to tell me," said Boeckman. "I thought 'Are you serious?'. I couldn't believe it at first. then coach Daniels (quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels) called me. He was coming back from West Virginia and he told me. He really didn't know what happened. He was bummed out, probably because he was thinking from Troy's standpoint rather than mine."
Daniels has helped Boeckman work hard this season. Boeckman has no shortage of praise for his position coach.
"He told me that I drastically improved from the beginning of the year to the end of the year," said Boeckman. "He's watching me throw, he's watching my mechanics and footwork. he's definitely made my feet a little quicker and my release a little quicker."
Boeckman has taken snaps with the first and second teams this season. Head coach Jim Tressel has mentioned Boeckman as well during the season when Zwick was injured.
"He thinks I've been in the mix all the time. He has confidence in me," said Boeckman. "I'm excited when he mentions my name sometimes (in press conferences). If he's mentioning my name, I must be doing something right. That's a good sign of what I have done right. If I get thrown into the mix, I just have to do what I can do."
The year was supposed to be one where Boeckman prepared for the future. If Boeckman plays in the Alamo Bowl, he'll lose his redshirt status and the four-year clock begins on his athletic eligibility.
It's a unique situation for Boeckman. Have four years starting next year, or lose a year by playing in the final game. Boeckman didn't know which word to use to describe the feeling.
"I've been close a couple of games during the season. I don't know what word you would use," said Boeckman. "I sacrificed (using the redshirt) all year down to this game. If I go in, I sacrificed the whole year. But, hey, if I do get in, I'll be more than happy. I'll be excited to all heck if I got into the game. That's something I have dreamt about, playing for the Buckeyes one day. That would be the world to me. You have to look at it both ways, but it would both equal out in the end.
"Being out there every game, traveling with the team, I think that's just an honor itself to be on the sidelines for the Ohio State Buckeyes," said Boeckman. "I'm just looking forward to next year after the bowl game to be able to compete again."