'If I hadn't gone to Ohio State, something would have seemed to be off': OSU ties remain strong for Boren family

Lori Schmidt
The Columbus Dispatch

Jacoby Boren still lives in the city of Pickerington where he grew up. He's an executive at the company his father founded and where Jacoby has worked since he was young. He played for the same college football team his two older brothers, Justin and Zach, did.

"If I hadn't gone to Ohio State, something would have seemed to be off," he admitted.

That's not to say Boren's life has been scripted. It hasn't been. He's had to make choices.

That's not to say his life has been easy. It hasn't been. He's had to put in a lot of work.

But it has all been very natural. 

And naturally, that makes him want to give back. 

Jacoby Boren was an integral part of the offensive line that helped Ohio State win a national championship in the 2014 season.

"I've been really fortunate with a lot of  things — with my football career; business; having a happy, healthy family," Boren said. "It was one of those things that my wife and I were looking at how we could get involved in an organization, specifically with kids."

He started working with A Kid Again, a charity that provides cost-free "Adventures" for children with life-threatening conditions and their families, or to provide "a timeout from illness," as the organization puts it. 

This February, Boren joined the board

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Former Ohio State offensive lineman Jacoby Boren and former basketball player Greg Oden speak at A Kid Again charity event

Boren's choice of charities makes sense in the same way most of his life seems to make sense. With wife Lindsey, he has two kids: Dominic, 3, and Lillian, 1. 

"What it really does more than anything is it gives me an appreciation for having a happy, healthy family," he said. "If anything, it just drives me to want to do more." 

And he does do more because Boren also works with the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. 

That, of course, is when he's not at his full-time job as vice president of business development at Grass Groomers, the landscaping company his father, Mike, founded in 1991 and which has two branches in the Columbus area and an office in northwest Ohio. 

He feels innately suited for the work.  

"Justin and I, we were involved since were literally probably 4 years old, out shoveling snow with my dad when there were snow storms and cutting grass and everything else," Boren said. 

Jacoby Boren chips in when he can at "Boren Brothers Waste Management Service," but his full-time position is as vice president of business operations at Grass Groomers. Both are Boren-family-owned companies.

Snow removal, even though he hasn't done it in a while, is one of his favorite parts of the business, so much so that in the days leading up to the national championship game against Oregon in 2015, Boren was plowing snow Downtown and on campus after winter weather hit. 

He was up in the early morning hours with two high ankle sprains and a torn labrum before taking a nap and then heading to practice. 

"My mom never really knew until after the fact, or she would have been (upset)," he said. "It's just one of those things that even while I was playing at a high level during that run, I was still out leading the team and plowing snow in my area. 

"It's kind of one of my passions that I grew up around, and obviously I majored in horticulture." 

In the days leading up to the national championship game against Oregon, Ohio State offensive lineman Jacoby Boren spoke to the media and plowed the streets of Columbus when it snowed.

Days after he helped clear the streets, he helped clear a path for Ezekiel Elliott to run for 246 yards against the Ducks, bringing Ohio State a victory in the first ever College Football Playoff. 

Being a Buckeye is something else that seemed to happen organically for Boren — more or less.

Zach, Lindsey, Dominic and Lillian Boren

"We grew up Michigan fans, so I was the kid in school that would be having a fight with everybody," he said.

Mike Boren played for the Wolverines. So had Jacoby's eldest brother, Justin, but when Justin transferred to OSU in 2008, it helped pave the way to Zach and Jacoby eventually joining the Buckeyes. 

When Ohio State players talk about the team being a brotherhood, for the Borens it literally was. You will still find the family hanging out at Ohio Stadium. 

"We have a big tailgate," Jacoby said." We're down there every home Saturday, and I don't know if I'd call it a tradition, but it's kind of routine." 

And he still feels the appreciation for his extended OSU family. 

"I think of myself as a has-been. It's been, what? Five years since I think I've played? Five, six years. But I definitely still feel the support," he said. 

And he feels that support as he travels a path that seems perfect for him.

"When I look at my life, I kind of joke because it's not really complicated in the sense of what I do," said Boren. "It's my family, it's business, and it's giving back to my community. Relatively simple life, but I wouldn't change it for the world."

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