But with Boren set to graduate, there was no one set to take over that role until Wednesday afternoon, when Dublin (Ohio) Scioto prospect William Houston committed to Ohio State as a preferred walk-on.
Houston, a two-star running back who stands 6-0, 235 pounds, hopes to jump right in and help the Buckeyes in that role after pledging to the team.
"I talked with the coaches and they say I can come in right away with (enrolling) early to help out on special teams early," he said. "I'll be the only fullback/H-back on campus, so it will definitely give me a chance to earn my spot and maybe a scholarship. I can definitely fill that role and help out a lot in the offense."
Ohio State has been using tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett in Boren's stead since his move to linebacker at midseason, but Houston will bring depth to Tim Hinton's position group and add a body who is used to lining up in the backfield. Houston ran 245 times this year for Scioto, racking up 1,151 yards and 12 touchdowns while catching 29 passes for 324 yards and two more scores.
Houston also had a full-ride scholarship offer to Bowling Green and preferred walk-on offers to Michigan and South Carolina, he said, but the chance to go to Ohio State was too much to pass up for the son of the former OSU player of the same name who lettered in 1990, '92 and '93.
"I'm definitely excited and sort of relieved as well," Houston said. "I've come a long way. I started getting recruited my sophomore year. I was just at practice this evening and talked with the coaches. I've been around for a while now, going to all the games and all these camps and everything, and my dad played for them of course. I just felt like I'm really comfortable there and this is where I belong and everything, so I took it."
An admitted Ohio State fan, Houston said he looks forward to the opportunity to play at the hometown school.
"It's an incredible fan base," he said. "It's one of the toughest places to play in college football, so that was a big factor. Academics was another thing I've been looking into recently. Just being close to home, it's convenient, about 20 minutes away. It's not that far, so my family and everyone can come see me play. I took that that into consideration as well."
The Houston family was also excited with the choice.
"My whole family has been calling all night," he said. "Everyone is really excited. They're proud of me. I feel like I made a good decision."