By TOM WILLIAMS
Two former Ohio State Buckeyes are hoping to kick start their NFL careers this fall with the San Francisco 49ers.
Offensive tackle Alex Boone, who grew up in Lakewood, has spent the offseason toning up, hoping to earn his first appearance in a NFL game. Last year, the 49ers signed Boone as a rookie free agent and assigned him to the practice squad.
Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. has even more to prove after being traded to the 49ers in April for a fifth-round draft pick. The overall number nine pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Ginn played three seasons for the Miami Dolphins, accumulating 128 receptions.
Boone and Ginn attended Monday’s fund-raising banquet for the The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation at Leo’s Ristorante. Also attending were 49ers coaches Mike Singletary and Tom Rathman and defensive tackle Justin Smith, linebacker Parys Haralson, wide receiver Josh Morgan and tight end Delanie Walker.
“It’s an honor to be here, to be with the ownership and have fun for a night, and raise some money for a good cause,” Boone said. “I went to see my Mom earlier today. We have some time off now, a nice little five-week vacation.”
Boone has earned a break since he took just three days off once the 49ers’ 8-8 season ended in January.
“I went right back to work,” said Boone, a two-time All-Big Ten Selection during his four years playing for Ohio State. “I hit the weight room extremely hard. I was fortunate enough to be able to work out with [retired Browns center] LeCharles Bentley.
“Learning from him was like learning from the master,” Boone said. “Great guy, even better football player.”
Now that Organized Team Activities have ended, Boone hopes his hard work will pay off with a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster.
“Everyone expected me to come back the way I came in — kinda heavy, not in shape,” Boone said of the OTAs. “Here I was slender and trim. I think it opened up a few eyes.
“I had a great OTA session,” Boone said. “Now it’s time to kick back and get your mind ready for training camp.”
Ginn said he’s still learning the ropes now that he’s playing for a NFC West team.
“The only thing you can do is go out and work as hard as you can and let everything else come to you,” said Ginn who grew up in Cleveland and was a three-year letterman for Ohio State.
With Michael Crabtree holding the role of the Niners’ top receiver, Ginn was asked where he is on the team’s depth chart.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Ginn replied.
Ginn wasn’t the only former Buckeyes receiver traded for a fifth-round pick this spring. The Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the Jets right before Holmes’ four-game suspension for substance abuse was announced.
“It’s no surprise because when you are playing in this league ... you’ve always got to be ready to go somewhere else,” Ginn said of the trades. “It might not be to your liking, it might be to your liking. The only thing you can do is be ready to take that next step.”
Ginn said he had little reaction to the Big Ten adding Nebraska. Boone, however, “said he’s “interested to see what is going to happen. I think they do need to put a championship game in there because I’ve been in there where there has been a three-way tie for first.
“And everybody is kinda poking at everybody ... to where we are sharing,” Boone said. “This is football, we don’t share anything in football. So to add a team would be great for a championship game, but I hope Nebraska is ready.
“The Big Ten is just different — cold weather, outside, you’re beating the hell out of each other and everybody is having a good time. So I’m excited to see what they do.”