O Captain! My Captain!: Leadership on the '13 Buckeyes

By Johnny Ginter on August 12, 2013 at 4:00p
Braxton Miller will have to overcome his unassuming nature to emerge into the leader this team needs.Eleven Warriors 2013 Ohio State Football Season Preview

The 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes have both the talent and the opportunity to contend for a national championship. The former is because of a set of extremely skilled players and coaches, and the latter comes from an almost laughably weak schedule for a national powerhouse like OSU.

Still, the games have to be played and players have to not completely blow it by doing something stupid, so the mental math that we use to calculate how excited we should be for something can change at any given time.

On paper, this Ohio State team is clearly the class of the Big Ten and has more than an inside shot at the national title if they're able to run the table. In reality, there are a thousand little sticking points that could muck up the whole system and cause it to come crashing down to earth at the Outback Bowl.

I believe that one of these sticking points for the 2013 season is leadership. This team does not as of yet have a John Simon to follow the example of, who if he was a cockney orphan would probably have been adopted by Urban and company and raised as their own. Gone too is Zach Boren, who selflessly gave up a pretty solid position to anchor a flagging linebacker corps.

That's not to say that there aren't capable leaders on this version of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but given the tumultuous offseason (and the fact that some perceived leaders were the cause of a lot of that tumult), it's more important than ever that certain players are able to step up and set the tone for what could be an incredible run.

Bradley Roby punched a bouncer in Bloomington and Carlos Hyde swatted at a girl in one of the dankest, urine soaked hellholes that Columbus has to offer. No one is really sure why either of them would be in such horrible pits of despair like southeastern Indiana or Sugar Bar 2, but in any case their actions there have pretty easily eliminated their chances of being captains.

Roby in particular gets hurt by this; he was scheduled to go to media days with with peers and his coach, and instead has ended up in football limbo until Meyer decides what his punishment is going to be. The players selected to go to Big Ten media days has traditionally been a pretty big deal, as usually they are the players most likely to end up as captains once the season starts.

So, instead of Roby joining fellow Buckeyes Jack Mewhort and Braxton Miller, three year starter at safety Christian Bryant went instead. All three are definitely on the shortlist for captaincy, but keep in mind that the 2012 Ohio State team had a whopping five captains, so there might be some surprises to go along with the obvious choices. But let's start with them anyway.

Braxton Miller

I'm personally of the opinion that it isn't a necessity to exclude non-seniors from being captains. I mean, it's possibly a really stupid opinion (especially since I once wrote a post about potential captains that uh... well, let's just say that I was riding high with TPeezy), but my line of thinking is that if a guy sets a positive example and is in a position of importance, it really shouldn't matter too much if they've been in the program four years versus three years.

The elder statesmanHard not to like the dude

In any case, it's no secret that Meyer expects his quarterbacks to be the leading examples of all that his good and right on his football teams. Braxton could become a captain by being a great leader (and people have been praising his increased vocal presence as of late) or become a better leader by being a captain, but either way it wouldn't be a shock if Urban Meyer decided to place his Heisman candidate in a position of even greater leadership.

Jack Mewhort

Aside from being huge and looking like the albino from the Da Vinci Code, Mewhort is also one of the senior leaders on the offensive line. And, given the relative importance of the offensive line in an Urban Meyer offense, it wouldn't be surprising to see the dude end up as one of the leaders of the team overall.

Plus, you know, he looks terrifying.

Ryan Shazier

I might be overplaying my hand here. Shazier is one of the best players on the team and possibly one of the best linebackers in the entire country, but it may be slightly premature to point him out as one of the leaders on the team. Still, one thing that I think needs to be noted about Shazier is that like Mewhort, he's anchoring a crucial part of the team that is also vulnerable to both injury and overall depth problems. That alone makes him both visible and valuable, and having him as a prominent leader on the team could be very important in the long run.

Philly Brown

Philly, aside from being Braxton Miller's safety net, has emerged as one of the most dependable go-to quote guys on the team for beat writers in need of an opinion. He's smart, well-spoken, and for both of those reasons I was surprised that the guy didn't end up making the trip to Chicago for Big Ten media days.

He also seems to now be in lockstep with Braxton in the offense, which can mean he'd be a powerful force in the huddle if need be. There is a glut of offensive weapons this season, but Philly Brown seems more prepared than any of them to take on an extended leadership role with both the team and the media.

Christian Bryant and CJ Barnett

Bryant and Barnett might surprise some people by being on this list; they take heat for being out of position (which is sometimes justified, but really more than a little overblown) and being reckless. Still, that kind of reckless abandon also plays well in the lockerroom, and Urban has noticed:

I've lumped these guys together because my secret nickname for them is the Bash Brothers and I think oftentimes they are two heads of the same coin. With Roby likely in the doghouse for the foreseeable future, it wouldn't be a bad thing at all to have two guys in the secondary who command the respect of everyone in front of them.

Kenny Guiton

Not a joke! Kenny G proved himself to be an incredibly valuable asset last season and frankly, given Braxton's frequent missing of time last season, it's not inconceivable that Guiton could be called on again to save the day. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone on the team, coaching staff, or in Ohio State fandom who doesn't love the dude for his attitude and patience as a college football player. Sometimes that's the kind of example that's needed in a captain.

Overall, there are a lot of options available to replace guys like Simon and Boren. But the key for Meyer and the team will be making sure that they're players who can command respect and set a pattern of behavior for the rest of the team. Last season the Buckeyes needed a serious kick in the pants from their star defensive lineman to fully realize their potential, culminating in a Tebow-esque (eeuugghh I just used that phrase and meant it, feels... so dirty...) speech that seemingly was the turning point of the season.

2013 will have other turning points, and it's important that the right players are there to guide the team through them.


Comments Show All Comments

pjtobin's picture

I agree with you on all of these players. And I too think that Kenny G is a true leader. He is a great guy who does whatever is asked of him. Great article. Thanks. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

osubuck57's picture

Nice read Johnny and I would be okay with any of the above mentioned. Agree, off field stuff should eliminate Hyde and Roby  from contention of any Captain title. Might add Norwell to this list as well. Hear all our big uglies have been working our underclassmen O-linemen, to show them and help them become OSU linemen.


niblick's picture

i dont like seeing a non-senior earn a captain spot.  that may not be right, it's just my 2 cents.  getting the captain nod is about so much more than on-field #'s, it's off the field stuff that we have no privy to.  Impossible to ever question the decision on who gets it and who doesn't since we as fans know next to nothing about what goes on off the field.  In the staff we trust!
Having said that, I'd LOVE to see Kenny G earn 1 of the spots.

Urban Nation Army's picture

Jordan Hall or Joel Hale come to mind for me.
Hale would be a guy like Goebel was last year who sets the example by going to work hard every day in the trenches.
Any of M. Hall, Linsley, or Norwell could be captains along with Mewhort
edit: I wasn't sure if Hale was a junior or senior, maybe next year.
edit: I also forgot Hall was a captain last year, probably helps his chances this year

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

Knarcisi's picture

Leadership comes in different forms, and it knows no experience level.  You'll have your vocal leaders, and those that are more quiet but lead by example.  And no reason why younger leaders can't step up.  I see a lot of opportunity for many of the examples above to step up.  I think the reason it stood out to UFM so much last year is because he assumed it wasn't there with a team 6-7 the previous year.  Leadership this year will need to be different.  It will need to keep us focused and away from the distractions that come with the hype and expectations. 

cbusbuckeye's picture

I'm ok with juniors being captains but idk about any younger than that. Especially on this team I don't want anyone to be a captain that has only seen 12-0, I want some juniors and seniors who know what 6-7 feels like leading the team. That experience coupled with great natural leadership is what's going to (hopefully) get this team to the NCG. 

Knarcisi's picture

Leaders don't have to be captains.

InHartWeTrust's picture

Dontre Wilson for captain!!!
But seriously, I like the names you mentioned with the addition of J Hall as an option.  Love the idea of Kenny G being a captain, if I had a vote, I'd give it to him.

RedStorm45's picture

Jordan Hall? Wasn't he a captain to start last season?

Urban Nation Army's picture

yes he was

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

RedStorm45's picture

I know you can't have two guys with the same number on the field at the same time - can you have Shazier and Corey Brown as captains if both wear #10?  Maybe it's not an issue, I don't know.
Corey Linsley is another guy Urban has praised.  Drew Basil is a senior, but I don't know if Meyer would go that route.  Michael Bennett is the "old guy" on the D-Line.
If they go with Kenny G, do you also have Braxton? Would it be weird to have 2 of the 4/5 captains be your QB's? I don't think I've ever seen that happen.

Hovenaut's picture

Kenny G also gets a vote from me as well, and I'm sure he's proven himself a leader within the program....above and beyond the Purdue heroics.

You don't replace a John Simon, but eager to see who steps up into that vocal locker room presence.

buckeye92's picture

Good point above about not seeing the whole picture behind the scenes to know who would or should make captain.  But...still interesting to make a guess.
I like the possibility of seeing Kenny G as a Captain.  
BTW, when do they officially announce the Captains?

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Love seeing Kenny G on this list.

RedStorm45's picture

Maybe it's the angle, but what's up with Braxton's hairline?

harleymanjax's picture

It was damaged by the blonde mohawk!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Urban Nation Army's picture

Could be worse...

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Love the list.  I fully agree Kenny G should be on the short list.  Without him last year this team does not go 12-0.  He's a talented player who great to have as a backup to Braxton. 
Go Bucks!

EDUGOON's picture

Kenny G is the 2nd most important player on this team. He has shown tremendous leadership and serves as a great example to any up and coming Buckeye. He'd get my vote. I'd also make Braxton Miller a captain as well to send a message to any team that thinks that by taking out our starter will increase there chance of defeating us. Nope, will just slide one of our other captains in and he can and will finish big games. #GOBUCKS

"We Don't Believe You, You Need More People"- Hova #GOBUCKS #FreeElGuapo #Famthik

FROMTHE18's picture

Be cool to have a 'C' on the uniforms of the captains

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

That is a great group of captains for the 2013 team...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

chadwyck11's picture

Bash Brothers!

Knarcisi's picture

I like our bash brothers being leaders for our young men ...

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

This team is toying with...and coming closer to being...everybody's worst nightmare. The leadership strategy is apparent now...and it is sound in principle. Urban is "compartmentalizing" leadership. The group leaders look to Braxton as the lynchpin of a well oiled machine. I can imagine opposing coaches trying to match playmaker to playmaker. Pessimist Urban Meyer is excited. We have some guys who can change games like Maurice Clarett...only we've got more than one.

Oh boy.

Be afraid, galaxy.

Be very, very...afraid.

We like to play guessing games here at !!W.

Well...I wonder how many overall football records FALL this year...

Anybody got an over/under?

I like cookies.

Seattle Linga's picture

Is anyone concerned with the talent that Hoke has pulled in this 2014 recruiting class. We have been so spoiled by the way that we have run over them since Tressel arrived and I know the big ten has to recruit better overall but that's a serious group of boys he has coming in soon. GO BUCKEYES!