Very few prep gridiron stars move on to play football at the collegiate level. Oak Harbor graduate Allen Boss is part of that select group.
Boss, a linebacker at Ohio Northern University, is learning to balance being a full time student with being a college athlete. Boss, who stands at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, is a second-string linebacker on the varsity squad, an impressive accomplishment for a freshman, and is working his way up the depth chart as he tries to sustain a spot for himself within a program that is looking to work its way up the ladder in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Competing against the likes of Mount Union and Heidelberg doesn't make things any easier on ONU. Currently, the Polar Bears, under the guidance of Coach Dean Paul, are 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the OAC as they head towards the midway point of the season.
Boss credits Oak Harbor coach Mike May and his assistants for helping to instill a sense of physicality and toughness within him.
“There are two main things that I was taught at Oak Harbor that I feel prepared me for the success I have (had) in football this year,” Boss said. “The first is the toughness that became a part of my nature as all my coaches growing up told me that being physical was just the way Rocket football is. That physicality has been crucial in my ability to stop the run at the college level.
“The second is the emphasis that Coach May put on running to the ball. It became a habit, and during camp I think I separated myself from the rest of the freshman by simply finishing every play.”
Boss, who had a 3.8 GPA and scored 31 on the ACT while in high school, is majoring in mechanical engineeringat Ohio Northern.
During the week, Boss attends class in the morning and early afternoon before practicing with the football team Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. Two days per week, Boss will lift weights with the team in the morning and watch film of their opponents in the evening.
“The biggest adjustment that I've had to make is how I manage my time,” he said. “I have to carefully set my schedule so I get everything I need to get done on time. I also have significantly less free time.”
In his senior season at Oak Harbor, Boss played center, for which he earned first-team All-Sandusky Bay Conference honors, and linebacker, but now his focus is solely on the defensive side of the ball.
“Football is different now because I only have to learn defensive schemes,” he said. “The game is much faster at this level and because the schemes are so complex I have to set aside time to study football, as well as school. I have adjusted well and would say that I have successfully transitioned into my new life.”
Boss has two factors working in his favor — first, Ada, Ohio is located just 78 miles from his home in Oak Harbor; and second, he lives in the same building as former high school teammates Joey Mallernee and Brian Mallernee, both of whom are playing baseball at ONU.
“It’s nice to have my best friends living just down the hall. I hang out with them a lot, as well as my roommate, Aaron Gordon, who is also a linebacker. And there's also Trent Stout, a linebacker from Fremont. That's our group of friends and we’re pretty close.”
He says what matters most is being near his family.
“It's very nice being close to home because I get to see my family every week,” said Boss, who has five siblings. “They haven’t missed one of my games yet (actually, they did miss one), and every time I see them my mom gives me a bag of snacks. It really does mean a lot to me that they get to watch me play because my primary motivation is to make them proud.”
Boss, who has two tackles, two assists, and one quarterback hurry during his first year of varsity football at the college level, is not the only local player at Ohio Northern. Five-foot-11, 195 pound junior Ryan Brandeberry (Clay) also plays linebacker for the Polar Bears.