Meyer Finds Eight Leaders for 2013 Squad
By Rob Odgen
All offseason, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been looking for leadership. Finally, he appears to have found it.
On Tuesday, the Buckeyes announced that eight players will serve as captains for the 2013 football team.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The eight, voted on by their teammates, are senior left tackle Jack Mewhort, junior quarterback Braxton Miller, junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, senior safety C.J. Barnett, senior safety Christian Bryant, senior quarterback Kenny Guiton, senior receiver Corey Brown and senior center Corey Linsley.
Before the team voted on Monday, Mewhort said being named captain would be one of the greatest honors he could ever receive. He was practically a shoe-in, but that didn't make hearing his name called any less special for the fifth-year senior.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“It's a huge honor to be named a captain of this football program at this great university," Mewhort said. "I'm really excited and it's a big honor that my teammates would vote for me and that they would hold me in that high esteem.”
Meyer huddled the team in a circle at the end of practice and called each captain up one-by-one.
"He called us up and eight guys stood up there. It was a pretty cool experience," Mewhort said.
Guiton, the backup quarterback, missed the ceremony. He was in class when he got a call from offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"He called me and asked me to come back to the Woody. I came back and some players were telling me and then I saw the coaches and they told me as well," Guiton said.
"It speaks a lot of words. I was the only backup even up to be a captain, so that was really cool to see the respect my teammates have for me."
The players were allowed to vote for four of their teammates, but Guiton voted for five, scribbling his own name at the bottom of his ballot.
Even so, he said he was surprised to hear that he had been selected. Meyer, however, wasn't.
"Isn't that awesome?" Meyer said. "He had a lot of votes too. It wasn't surprising. The most votes was Mewhort and second most was C.J. Barnett, but Kenny wasn't far behind. He was third or fourth."
Meyer said last month that leadership starts with the quarterback and offensive line. With Guiton and Miller, Mewhort and Linsley, the Buckeyes now have two captains at each unit.
Ohio State hadn't previously had a quarterback captain since 2008.
All offseason, coaches and players praised Miller for his improved leadership qualities. Usually a quiet guy on and off the field, his teammates said he has become a much more vocal leader.
Their votes confirmed that.
"It's a privilege and an honor," Miller said. "WIth the guys from last year, it's big shoes to fill but I'm ready to take the charge."
Brown was another guy who didn't expect to hear his name called. He was the last to be called up, and couldn't contain his excitement when he was.
“Right after he told me that I was going to be a captain, I had a big smile ear to ear, and I tweeted and said that I was truly blessed, because I am," Brown said.
Then he called his mom. "But she knew already. She follows me on Twitter."
Meyer has persistently said that leadership is what carried the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record last year and a Leaders Division championship.
He so badly wants to replicate that leadership this season that he has put players through leadership workshops and has made them give leadership presentations.
"That's going to be the difference," Meyer said. "The older I get and the better teams I've been around, the one common thing about those teams wasn't the style of offense, it wasn't the style of defense, it wasn't the height, weight, size, how high you jump, how fast you run, it's the leadership within the program."
At Big Ten Media day last month, the Ohio State players were repeatedly asked, 'who are the leaders on the team?' Mewhort said leadership is no longer a question.
“I think that eight captains speaks to the leadership of our team right now," he said. "Guys noticed that we had a void left from last year, and guys have stepped up and filled it. I think that shows with coach Meyer having eight captains.”
The eight are known for now as "game captains". Meyer plans to pare the group down by season's end and recognize a select few as "season captains".
Unless of course, he beleives they're all worthy.
"At the end of the year we'll see who does a great job and see where we're at," Meyer said. "If they all do a great job, we'll be the first eight-captain unit in, probably, history."
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