MOUNT VERNON — With less than a month before the 2009 NFL Draft, two potential draft picks made their way to the 2009 Knox County Spring Home and Garden Show on Saturday afternoon for a meet and greet. Former Ohio State Buckeyes Todd Boeckman and James Laurinaitis were on hand to sign autographs and step away from the NFL spotlight.
“I always like doing signings and getting to talk to the fans. You always hear stories of how you touched them in some way,” said Boeckman. “When a little kid smiles, I always love seeing that because I know I made someone’s day. I always look forward to it.”
Laurinaitis is expected to be a first-round selection, while Boeckman will likely be waiting until Day 2 to hear his name called. Boeckman’s stock dropped after he lost his starting quarterback spot to freshman Terrell Pryor. He didn’t let that stop him, however.
“It was really tough to go out there after last year. I helped lead our team to a national championship game and then kind of got thrown to the side for a little bit,” Boeckman said. “It was hard on me. I thought I deserved the right to be out there, at least a little bit. I had to play my role, be a team captain and do whatever the coaches asked me. When I went out there on the field, I wanted to make the most of it. I did feel like maybe I should have been given more opportunities to get on the field, but I just wanted to do what I could to help the team out, whatever it was — backup, third-strong, fourth-string or starter.
“It was a tough experience overall,” said Boeckman. “But if that is one of the toughest things I have to go through in sports, then I am pretty fortunate. Overall, I learned the ropes. It could happen in real life with your job, so I guess going through an experience like this could help me out overall.”
Being an Ohio State Buckeye is something Boeckman wouldn’t trade for anything. Many say staying for his senior season was a bad move on Boeckman’s part, especially after what transpired. Boeckman, however, knew he would miss a chance at fulfilling his legacy.
“I had a great time there,” said Boeckman. “I always wanted to be an Ohio State Buckeye. When I got the chance to do it, I wanted to make the most of it, and I think I did. Being able to play there was a dream come true. Overall, it was a great experience for me.
“I am definitely going to miss it. What our senior class accomplished is unbelievable. Winning all of those games, and being one of the most successful senior classes in the history of Ohio State is special. We didn’t go out the way we would have liked to the last couple of years, which was kind of tough, but we’ve got a lot to be proud of. We did a lot for the university and for the fans.”
Boeckman does have a few things he would have liked to accomplish during his collegiate career, but overall, he’s happy with the way his career wrapped up.
“I definitely would have loved to have won a national championship first and foremost,” Boeckman said. “That’s every college football player’s dream, especially at Ohio State. Maybe I did fall a little short there, but I did have a great career. I met so many great people, and I’m proud of what I accomplished.”
Ohio State held its pro day a couple of weeks ago and Boeckman put in a solid performance. He ran a 4.79 second 40-yard dash and displayed his strong arm. The performance was noted by a few teams.
“I’m working hard,” said Boeckman. “We had our pro day, and I had some workouts with some pro teams. I’m doing everything I can, hoping somebody will take a shot on me. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can make a team either through the draft or free agency. I just want a chance to show my skills. It only takes one person to like you; you never know what can happen.
“My pro day went well. I thought I threw well and did about as good as I could. Hopefully, it works out and it showed somebody that I have skills to go out there and compete in the NFL.”
If football isn’t in Boeckman’s future, he isn’t sure what he is going to do. He hasn’t stopped to think about that possibility.
“Right now, I definitely don’t know what I want to do,” said Boeckman. “(If I don’t make a team,) I’ll go through the job interviews and the process. I’m not sure where that will take me, but I plan on coming back to Columbus after my playing days are over.”
Boeckman, who grew up in St. Henry, knows he had a responsibility to the younger players watching him play every Saturday, and he offered a few words of advice.
“Never give up because you never know what could happen,” said Boeckman. “You always have to keep battling; don’t ever stop, keep pushing yourself. With anything, you never know. You have to go out and give it your all 100 percent each and every play. You also have to do the right things on and off the field. Cherish the moments you have playing with your friends.”