Jacoby Boren, a junior on the Pickerington High School Central football team, has absorbed countless bumps and bruises while roughhousing with his older brothers, Justin and Zach, over the years.
Even though Jacoby currently stands 6 feet, 3 inches and weighs 275 pounds, he was at a size disadvantage the majority of his life when he went toe-to-toe with Justin, who is a 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior offensive lineman for Ohio State University, and Zach (6-0, 255), who is a sophomore fullback at Ohio State.
"My brothers and I have been getting into wrestling matches, and sometimes even fistfights, my whole life," Jacoby said. "I've always been getting pounded on ever since I was little. I don't know how many times I've smacked my head on a coffee table or something else in our house when we're going at it."
But Mike Boren, who played linebacker for Michigan from 1980-83, said his youngest son has never backed down from his older siblings.
"Jacoby has got a chip on his shoulder and he doesn't take any crap from his brothers," Mike said. "He is always ready to compete with his brothers when it comes to anything at all. He's a really tough kid."
Jacoby's toughness has enabled him to become the only two-way starter for Central on the line this season.
Boren plays right guard for in a multiple-formation offense and lines up at tackle, end and occasionally outside linebacker for the team's multiple-front defense.
With Boren leading the way in the trenches, Central is averaging a hefty 6.0 yards per carry (1,351 yards on 225 carries).
The Tigers' defense, meanwhile, has been tough against the run, surrendering 2.1 yards per carry (453 yards on 215 carries).
Behind the success of their running game and defense, the Tigers are 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division, and have outscored their opponents 232-29.
"You usually don't get a lot of fanfare playing the positions that Jacoby plays, but he's doing everything really well," Central coach Jay Sharrett said. "He really spear-points our offensive attack and makes things happen for us. He's also providing a real leadership role on our defensive line, which has made it tough on opponents to run against us. He's very difficult to block and he draws a lot of double-teams, which frees up our linebackers to make plays."
Jacoby began playing football at age 5 under the guidance of his father, but he always emulated his older brothers' playing styles.
Justin started on Michigan's offensive line for two seasons after graduating from Pickerington North in 2006 before transferring to Ohio State, where he has started the past two seasons.
Zach has started at fullback for the Buckeyes the past two seasons after helping lead Central to a Division I regional title and 13-1 record as a linebacker and fullback during his senior season in 2008.
"I've learned a lot from my coaches at Central, but Justin has taught me the most about technique when it comes to blocking," Jacoby said. "Zach, Justin and (Central defensive coordinator Jeff) Lomonico have taught me the most about playing defense.
"My family has had a huge influence on me. They're always there for me when I need help with something, but we often step back away from football and talk about other things, too."
Jacoby became Central's starting center as a freshman before playing on both sides of the ball and earning first-team all-OCC-Ohio honors as a sophomore. He has progressively improved his strength to the point where he can bench press 375 pounds and squat 500 pounds.
"I'd say Jacoby's fundamentally better than Justin was at that age," Mike said. "Justin's bigger and he was able to use his size and strength against people when he was younger, but Jacoby's got better technique than Justin had when he was a junior in high school."
Although the Boren brothers often quibble over who is the best football player, they enjoy spending time together in their family's boat on Buckeye Lake.
Jacoby and Justin also spend a lot of time working together during the winter, plowing snow for their father's landscaping company.
"Jacoby's a hard-working kid," Justin said. "He works out six days a week during the offseason, and he'll stay out there plowing snow for 40 hours straight, along with me, because he doesn't want to be the first one to quit. He's mentally tough and he won't back down from anybody."
Jacoby's hard-nosed play has caught the eye of college coaches as well. On Sept. 30, he received his first scholarship offer from Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.
"It's a huge honor to get an offer from Ohio State," Jacoby said. "I'll probably go there, unless something changes. For now, my focus is on my high school team. Team-wise, we're looking to win our fifth (consecutive) OCC title and move on to regional and state. We feel like this team is capable of accomplishing big things."