As the youngest of three brothers, Boone Jenner always needed eyes in the back of his head.
After all, you never know when the next bale of hay is going to be headed in your direction.
Jenner's family owns and operates a cattle farm in Dorchester, Ont., a small town just east of London. As a youngster, he'd be outside working on the farm; even today there's no excuse for not chipping in despite the fact he's on the verge of becoming the first of the Jenner clan to reach the NHL.
"We grew up on a farm just outside of Dorchester … a bunch of beef cows," he told NHL.com. "About 100 Angus cows. It was fun. Looking back, it made me a better person all-round with all the chores I had to do and stuff. It was a lot of fun. People think you get up early, but we only needed to get up early some mornings. It really wasn't too bad."
"I had skates on for as long as I can remember and my brothers were 3 and 4 years old when I was born, so my dad got me into it right away," Jenner said. "Having two older brothers was an influence. They made me a better hockey player. I'd always compete with them and they'd give me tips on how the next level would be. One is pretty big, and I actually played against him last year."
Boone certainly has caught the eye of scouts, proving to be a pretty nimble playmaker while scoring more than his share of game-winning goals, as well as blocking shots and delivering crunching hits along the boards for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. In his second season with the team, the 6-foot, 194-pound center has 6 goals, 19 points and a plus-5 rating through 22 games while playing on a line with Christian Thomas and Alain Berger, who rank first and second, respectively, on the team in scoring.
In Jenner's case, however, it's more the things he does away from the puck that has impressed scouts.
"I'm just trying to do everything out there and not just be offensive or good with the puck," Jenner said. "I try to play well in the defensive zone, and when I don't have the puck I'm always in pursuit of it, trying to help my team in every way."
"The phrase, 'I want 20 of those guys on my team,' gets overused, but it not only applies to Boone, he can be the poster boy for it," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com.
Jenner was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team and was runner-up for the OHL's Rookie of the Year last season after totaling 19 goals (8 power-play goals) and 49 points in 2009-10. The resume Jenner has built during his OHL time has made him a highly regarded prospect for the 2011 Entry Draft.
In its preliminary rankings released last month, NHL Central Scouting has Jenner seventh among OHL skaters.
"Boone does what it takes to win," Edwards said. "He blocks shots, wins battles along the boards and is an outstanding forechecker. He wants to be first to the puck every time. He's solid on his skates and fights through checks on his way to the net. He sees the ice very well and has excellent anticipation. His puckhandling and overall puck skill are very good, he's used in all situations and logs a lot of ice every night."
Earning the high rating was quite an honor to Jenner, but he isn't resting on his laurels.
"It's exciting having the scouts rank me that high," he said. "It's an honor to be recognized but I can't get too ahead of myself. I'm just going to play my game and keep it going, keep doing the things that got me to the seventh ranking and hopefully bump it up a few notches."
Jenner won a gold medal with Canada at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August and captained Team Ontario to a silver medal at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this past January. Prior to being drafted with the fourth pick of the 2009 OHL Priority Selection by the Generals, Jenner starred in midget AAA hockey with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs. There, he totaled 49 goals, 103 points and 72 penalty minutes in 54 games playing for his father/coach, Matt.
Jenner also had an opportunity to showcase his competitive verve at the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp Fueled by G Series in August.
"The Draft seemed so far away in August, but the days are flying by," Jenner said. "It's still a couple of months away so I'm trying to put that aside and just worry about the Oshawa Generals."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale