Regardless of Title, Brewster's Leadership Shines Through
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michael Brewster is a four-year starter and a preseason All-American. He might be the best center in the country, following in the footsteps of great Ohio State linemen like LeCharles Bentley and Nick Mangold.
Photo by Jim Davidson
At least publically, he has said and done everything right during his time at Ohio State, despite some knucklehead decision-making by a number of his closest friends.
His reward for that model behavior will be the opportunity to serve as a captain…for one game.
Brewster will officially join teammates J.B. Shugarts and John Simon at midfield for the coin toss in Saturday’s season-opener, but that may be the last time any of them leads the team into battle this fall.
“Things are different this year,” said Brewster, who enters his fourth season as Ohio State’s starting center.
“It's Coach (Fickell’s) decision to make everybody a part of it, and I think that's great. We need everybody this year. It's not about a few people or four seniors, it's about everybody.”
That was the message new Head Coach Luke Fickell gave to his team when he announced that there would be no permanent captains to start the 2011 season.
“For right now I thought it was what was best for our team,” Fickell said during his first press luncheon Tuesday.
“Sometimes you elect captains and those are the guys that are just by nature the ones that stand up in front of the team. We always talk about it. It's about the whole group of seniors.”
So naturally, one of the team’s juniors—John Simon—will be among the first players to serve as a game captain this season.
“Coach Fickell thinks it's best, and we'll follow him,” said Simon, a third-year junior out of Youngstown.
“I think that's best for us, too, because a lot of young guys don't know the seniors as well as we do and things like that.”
But everyone knows Mike Brewster, even dating back to his days as the unofficial leader of the “Brew Crew” recruiting class in 2008. The former 5-star prospect turned All-American has been in the fires for four years now.
“Your leaders are going to make the plays in the big games at the big moments. Mike has definitely done that in the past, but all of our seniors have,” Simon said.
“We have many seniors that have that leadership quality in them. So I think we have so many leaders that it’s hard to pick a couple. We’ll be able to pick them at the end of the year.”
That is the other part of Fickell’s plan. Instead of naming team captains at the beginning of the season, like Ohio State has typically done throughout history, he would prefer his team withhold judgment on who the leaders of the team really were until the dust settles after the Michigan game.
“We will eventually have captains. That will probably be done before the end of the year, maybe the banquet of some sort,” Fickell said.
“I thought for right now, this year, it does a good job bringing a whole group of senior leadership to the forefront; doesn't put anybody specifically to stand up in front of guys because they were elected or because whether it was a popularity vote or something.”
Therein lies the biggest problem—and maybe the answer to why Fickell decided to do things this way.
“The guys who are suspended, all five of them could be captains if they wanted to be,” said junior tight end Jake Stoneburner.
“It would be tough to see if they should be because they’re suspended, so this is the best way.”
Stoneburner came in with this senior class, so he knows first hand what kind of leaders guys like DeVier Posey and Boom Herron have been this off-season.
“They’re all great leaders. They stuck around. They’re out on the field teaching guys even though they’re on the scout team. I think they should all at least get a chance to be out there,” Stoneburner said.
“They’re still here, this is still their senior season. When that sixth game comes around they’re still part of the team.”
And because of the game captains setup, Posey, Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas will all be eligible to serve as captains at some point this season. But what about Brewster? What about the one guy who deserved to be captain on this football team?
How is he handling the situation?
“It would have been cool, but it's not about me,” Brewster said.
“It's not about any individual this year. I'm more worried about the team. Like I said before, I'm here to make sure this team moves forward and help Coach Fick any way I can.”
That’s what a true leader would do.
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