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August 29, 2009
Four words set off a firestorm of controversy from Ann Arbor to Columbus:
"Family values have eroded."
That is what offensive lineman Justin Boren alleged about Michigan in the spring of 2008 after announcing he was transferring from Michigan to Ohio State. A rivalry already double-dipped in hatred was spiced up with the unthinkable: a player transferring from one school to the other - and spouting off about it.
What would Woody and Bo think?
"I believe Justin can be a good player," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who is 7-1 vs. Michigan. "I think he has worked solid and looks good. We are counting on Justin."
Boren is the projected starting left guard for Ohio State after sitting out last season under NCAA transfer rules. He's one of many key players who will be eligible this fall after sitting out last season following a transfer from a four-year school (SEE CHART).
Many can't wait for Boren's return trip to Ann Arbor on Nov. 21. How will fans react? But Boren - 0-2 against the Buckeyes while in Ann Arbor - isn't worried about it. It's all about staying in the moment and getting ready for his junior season.
"I love the players and the coaches," said Boren, a native of Pickerington, Ohio, about the Buckeyes. "It's a very close-knit group. There are no cliques. It is a real close team atmosphere.
Meet the new guys
Prominent transfers eligible at Football Bowl Subdivision schools for the 2009 season:
Hawaii: G Ikaika Rodenhurst (Oregon State)
Idaho: RB DeMaundray Woolridge (Washington State)
Miami of Ohio: RB Quincy Landingham (Wisconsin)
Nebraska: G/T Derek Meyer (Kansas State)
"It took my dad about a month to get rid of this Michigan stuff and get Ohio State stuff, so he is fully converted."
Because of his father, Mike, Boren always wanted to be a Wolverine. Mike was raised in Columbus, Ohio, but played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan (1980-83) after he was jilted by Ohio State. And Justin's mom ran track in Ann Arbor. So, it wasn't a shock when Justin signed with the Wolverines.
Boren looked primed for a nice career at Michigan. In 2006, he became just the fourth true freshman in modern Michigan history to start on the offensive line. The others were Bubba Paris (1978), Tom Dixon (1980) and Dean Dingman (1987).
Boren left Michigan in the spring of 2008, making headlines with an opinionated statement upon his exit from Ann Arbor.
"Michigan football was a family, built on mutual respect and support for each other, from Coach Carr on down," he said. "We knew it took the entire family, a team effort, and we all worked together.
"I have great trouble accepting that those family values have eroded in just a few months. ? That I am unable to perform under these circumstances at the level I expect of myself, and my teammates and Michigan fans deserve, is why I have made the decision to leave."
Ohio State is happy to have Boren, who has a chance to be the top lineman on a unit that welcomes back three starters. It's a line that came under some fire last season for a lack of toughness and physicality.
"I don't think [the criticism] was fair," said Boren, who injured a knee in practice earlier this month but is expected to be OK. "I think they played pretty well as a unit last year. There always are little mistakes here and there, but I am excited for this year. I think as a unit we will be real strong."
Boren (6 feet 3/315 pounds) is expected to bring toughness to the unit. He is a strong, physical player.
"He has some size, for sure," Ohio State offensive tackle Jim Cordle said. "He's a big kid, a mauler, and has that attitude, which is good for us."
Boren admits to a nasty attitude.
" 'Nasty' is trying to drive your player 10 yards down the field on every play," said Boren, whose brother, Zach, is a freshman running back at Ohio State. "I think every lineman on our team can be nasty. That's your goal on every play - to line up and try to beat the guy in front of you and try to drive him as far as you can."
Tom Dienhart is the national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.