Captain Guiton, America's Favorite Closer

By Kyle Rowland on August 29, 2013 at 9:15a

Kenny Guiton could be suiting up in purple and gold this weekend preparing to play Texas Southern. Or he could have a job in the real world. It depends on whether Prairie View A&M redshirted the quarterback.

Instead, Guiton will walk to midfield in Ohio Stadium as a captain for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The journey from 2009 to now is such an improbable story that written in script form, it would be too unfathomable even for Hollywood.

“It’s crazy,” said Guiton, a fan favorite backup quarterback. “I just got done talking to my parents about that last night. When I found out I was captain, I called them and we talked about how we were almost at Prairie View. But I came up here and I made something happen. It’s pretty cool.” 

On Oct. 20, 2012, Guiton went from backup quarterback to Ohio State legend. A perfect season was on the brink of collapse. The Buckeyes were struggling with pesky Purdue in the second half, and then Braxton Miller suffered a game-ending injury. It thrust Guiton into a starring role in a drama-filled sports epic.

What transpired over the game’s final minute and overtime etched Guiton’s name into Buckeye lore. Fifty years from now, the name Kenny Guiton will resonate with legions of Ohio State fans. All because of two drives in one game.

“Yes, sir. That’s pretty cool,” he said, with a toothy grin. “That’s something I have to live on for the rest of my life. I’m happy that got to happen.”

An array of factors made Guiton’s ascension on that fall Saturday so unlikely, beginning with his brief recruitment. Tajh Boyd spurned the Buckeyes late in the process during 2009, and Ohio State wanted a quarterback in the class. Then-recruiting coordinator John Peterson happened to be in Guiton’s hometown of Houston. Thus, Guiton was offered a scholarship.

But up to last season, his career consisted of redshirting and being a second- and third-string quarterback. The first sign that Guiton’s role could expand came at Michigan State, when he orchestrated a touchdown after Miller missed a handful of plays after a late hit.

The situation against Purdue was far different, though, and dire. Guiton had completed just two passes and had thrown an interception on the preceding drive when the Buckeyes got the ball back with 47 seconds left needing not only a touchdown, but also a two-point conversion to force overtime. 

No worries for the inexperienced signal-caller who prepares as if he’s the starter. Guiton calmly led a six-play, 61-yard drive, and then completed the two-point conversion. The game-winning drive came in overtime.


Guiton said he gets thanked frequently. That isn’t typically of most backup quarterbacks. Sure, they are often the most popular player on the team. But the flare and dramatics are left to the starter. 

“He has all the intangibles that you could ask for as a leader and as a quarterback,” said offensive coordinator Tom Herman. “He knows the offense inside and out, and he’s a coach on the field. The big knock on him was he just didn’t quite have the release and velocity on his ball. That has improved. It's certainly not close to where Braxton’s is or some of the elite guys in the country, but he makes up for some of that deficiency with his leadership, his ability, his anticipation.

“He’s a rock in my room.”

If anyone believes in Guiton, it is Herman. Their story began when Guiton was a quarterback at Eisenhower High School and Herman was Rice’s offensive coordinator. In need of a gunslinger, Herman turned to Guiton and found himself in the quarterback’s living room.

“We recruited him quite heavily,” Herman said. “He’s a coach’s kid, bright kid. He was a very good leader, had a lot of talent around him. I think they had five or six kids from that Eisenhower team that signed Division I scholarships. But you could tell even at that time that he had a presence about him.”

That Herman would be guiding Guiton during the comeback against Purdue seems more than farfetched. Herman said it resulted in a neat sidebar and showed how small the world really is.

Despite being a three-star recruit, Guiton was not highly coveted coming out of a big high school in the football-mad state of Texas.

“Sometimes you take chances where certain coaches see a diamond in the rough, so to speak,” said Herman, who believes Guiton could start for half the teams in the country – and be a coach, earning Kenny G another nickname, “Coach Guiton.”

Ohio State enters the season with visions of filling a trophy case. If it happens, Guiton thinks he’ll be part of the story. Not just as a captain, but taking crucial snaps. Even as a captain – an honor that came as a surprise to Guiton – his purpose remains the same.

“What I’ve done has made me a captain, so I’m going to keep it up.”

“I don’t think anything changes,” he said. “I try to be a leader every day. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. What I’ve done has made me a captain, so I’m going to keep it up.”

A backup quarterback being named captain is a rarity. For Meyer, however, it seemed like common sense.

“He got a lot of votes. It wasn’t surprising,” he said, revealing Guiton’s total was the third- or fourth-most on team. “That tells you what an incredible kid he is. [His] parents need to be proud of that guy.”

This entire odyssey nearly went the way of the Dodo prior to last season. It was then that Meyer became unimpressed with Guiton’s character and work ethic. It almost earned him a one-way bus ticket back to Texas. But in stepped Herman to right a wrong.

“If a kid’s not doing something right, you’re never in his corner,” he said. “But you do take the stance sometime, ‘Coach, give me a month, we’ll get this straight.’ There’s a difference between bad kids and bad people and good people that make bad decisions. To say that I was in his corner, yeah, I believed in him. What he needed to do was not a stretch by any means for him to do it. But, at the same time, had he not done it, I would have been in Coach Meyer’s corner.”

Guiton stepped away the cliff and became a vital presence for the Buckeyes. Still, with all the good come some bouts of frustration. Every competitor wants to play. Only one quarterback can be on the field, though, and when a player of Miller’s caliber is listed on the roster, it’s hard to justify removing him.

“It’s tough,” Guiton said. "But I keep my head up. I always try to stay ready to go. I continue to do that.

“Sometimes it comes up in my head. What if? What if I did this or that? But I’m here. I’m happy I came here, it’s a lot of fun. I keep working. I want to play, so that’s one thing I’m shooting for.”

What if Guiton had ended up at Prairie View? Then the story wouldn’t be a bestseller.


Comments Show All Comments

Rapping Bum's picture


Help is on the way.

3cent's picture

During that terrible 6-6 year two years ago I never understood why Guiton was behind Bauserman. He could have helped in the hurricane game and the Buckeyes would have beaten Neb.

CC's picture

Really?  You never understood why Guiton was behind Bauserman?  I should give you a downvote for that comment.  The real question is, "How could anyone be behind Bauserman?"

3cent's picture

Yes, I didn't know why Guiton didn't get Bauserman's playing time. I blame fickell and the walrus. I remember during the Neb game when Braxton got hurt I was like if bauserman goes in we are going to lose, please put Guiton in.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Pfft. Even Troy would be behind Bauserman.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

northwest_buckeye's picture

Kenny G and his sweet heroics. Love that dude.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

Smooooth jazzzz

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

spqr2008's picture

We need to raise funds so that when this school year is over, 11W can give Kenny G a saprano saxaphone for his graduation present (at that point it's legit under NCAA rules, right?).  It would be about the best gag gift for a Buckeye player ever.  We can do it, it'd just be under $300 for the Sax and some gift wrap and a card.

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

I would happily donate to that cause. :)

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

buckeyedude's picture

I'll give $20. Even though that win over Purdon't was priceless.



OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Love the name of that GIF

Yeti's have feelings too.

NitroBuck's picture

Those might still be Purdue's exact words....

Ferio.  Tego.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

If there's one backup QB in all of America that has earned the right to be a captain, it's Kenny Guiton.  I appreciate all that he does in the face of not getting to play unless something happens to Braxton.  I believe that he could start for half of the teams in the country (at least), and I don't know about winning the B1G if he started for OSU, but I certainly think OSU could win 10 games if he was the guy at QB.

Class of 2010.

CC's picture

I bet he plays a lot more this year.  I can't imagine we struggle the way we did early last year.

Oyster's picture

If the LB's and DB's continue to not wrap up, like they were doing last year until Boren was moved over, I can see shoot outs happening again.  Hopefully these fundamentals have been resolved.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

gwin321's picture

From what I understand, the coaching staff has cut back on some of the tackling drills in fear of injury. NCAA sanctions really suck. Why is that no one is talking about how the "ESPN" influence on the NCAA(SEC) has Johnny overrated only out one half. REALLY?

Firmthyfriendship's picture

"Buckeye number 1-3, Smoooth Jazzz, helpin you smooth out your day." 
I wonder if Herman has him on the sideline during the break of that Purdue game and say, "Holy shit, G. I was in your living room, like 4 years ago. Look at this shit. Neither one of us could have predicted we'd both be here, in the 'Shoe, with Urban Freakin Meyer leadin us. This is destiny, G. Go DO it!"

BullCityBuckeye's picture

I truly sleep better at night knowing this guy is our backup QB.  Valuable member of this squad.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

O-H  Captain my Captain!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

doodah_man's picture

Speaks highly that UFM is pushing him toward coaching. Hope there is a grad assistant position in his future at tOSU.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

southbay's picture

Kenny has never worried about what anyone thinks about his abilities. He always seems cool and cconfident when he comes into the came, even in those scary moments when Braxton has been injured.

cplunk's picture

Love his patience on the throw in that gif.
That is a much harder play than it looks. The QB really has to hold steady regardless of the rush and not throw until the receiver is clear. The throw is difficult; it is one of those touch throws that QBs in the heat of the moment often try to aim and end up overthrowing or tossing too hard on a straight line.
Kenny G owned that play. Ran it perfectly.

Charlene's picture

Through last season Kenny was a smother more accurate passer than Braxton, but Braxton displayed the running excellence that got us through most of the season. If Braxton had not gotten hurt, it is hard to believe we would have won the Purdue game. That was just not Braxton's day.

SaltyD0gg's picture


Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

nm_buck's picture

Everything happens for a reason.  It's a long season and we're gonna need K-Gite.

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

Cdrone92's picture

Instead, Guiton will walk to midfield in Ohio Stadium as a captain for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The journey from 2009 to now is such an improbable story that written in script form, it would be too unfathomable even for Hollywood.

Written in script form...hehe...

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions."

-Woody Hayes

buckeyedude's picture

Better than Rudy.
He should dot the I.



TMac's picture

Kenny G, the Smooth Captain

ONE Not Done!

toad1204's picture

I've got a fever and the only cure is more yazz sax.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

stittracer99's picture

I know Urban and Tom Herman love Guiton. I am hoping that they get him in the games as early as possible, whenever possible. Don't get me wrong, I love Braxton and want to see him put up gaudy numbers and win the Heisman, but I honestly would prefer he give up a lot of his potential garbage time minutes/stats. Kenny G has earned it and I would love for him go out with his best year yet.

buckeyedude's picture

but I honestly would prefer he give up a lot of his potential garbage time minutes/stats. Kenny G has earned it

I said exactly this same thing last year, and got reamed by most fans in 11W. Then fate happened and Kenny bailed us out.



skid21's picture

Great article! I continue to be impressed with the quality of material we get on this site...and for FREE!?! At least in my lifetime Kenny G is the first backup QB to become a legend at OSU. You have to love his story.

81Alum's picture

"Herman, who believes Guiton could start for half the teams in the country..."
Heck, if we did not have Braxton, I'd be comfortable with Kenny G as the starting QB. After that Spring game 3 years ago, I've been a fan and hoped he'd get more playing time.
Outstanding character and truly a fine representative of The Ohio State Buckeyes. Glad he's been honored as a captain.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

So John Peterson happened to be in Houston? I wonder who he was recruiting that brought him there. And in all honesty, had he even heard of Kenny Guiton before he got to Houston? That offer came so far out of left field, I feel like there are few details still left to be told.
But it sure ended up a win-win.

southbymidwest's picture

Crazy how lucky we are to have a back up QB that is that admired, popular and talented, and with no starting QB controversies to mess up the team chemistry.

DannyBeane's picture

If there ever was a text book definition of selflessness, it would have Guiton's picture right next to it. Just the fact that we landed and kept such a remarkable individual for a back up qb is mindblowing. Here's hoping that Xbrax sets up the pins in the 1st half of all the games for Kenny G to knock them down in the second half.

steveinkc's picture

we were sitting in 9b, this play was right in front of us! sure glad we decided to stay for the whole game. this is a great play if you have time/patience to pull it off. mis-direction, against the grain....hard one to stop!!


cajunbuckeye's picture

Nothing but love and respect for this young man. Kenny is truly the Buckeye's "golden parachute". He could play at a majority of colleges, but has elected to be a part of this team. It speaks volumes about who he is as a person. Bravo, Kenny Guiton, bravo!

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Kenny G, the ultimate teammate.

raki's picture

I would never forget the Purdue game for the rest of my life.........That drive was just amazing.......And i still don't understand how bauso was ahead of him......

WyoBuckeye's picture

I got chills watching that play.  Love it.

BrewstersMillions's picture

I am hard pressed to think of a more loved (deserved) back up in Ohio State history. Glad to see he got a nod for captain. Ohio State needs Braxton Miller to win the national championship but they will also need Kenny to get there.

WyoBuckeye's picture

Scott McMullen was a pretty good back-up.  Got some wins for us when Krenzel was down.

raki's picture

Yup I still remember the Penn state game when he came and won for us. I think it was 2003 and it was in happy valley.

klfeck's picture

New T-Shirt, and I get the first one
Kenny G's sweet fall melodies



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

CCatanzaro's picture

Did it take anyone awhile to get passed the 5th paragraph because you kept watching the gif over, and over, and over?  Yeah, that was an amazing day.  I remember being so mad at the commentators because they mentioned Braxton's injury every 3 seconds and kept showing the video of the ambulance.  Then Kenny G steps in and does what he did, which was equaled in awesomeness a few long hours later when they announced that Braxton was going to be just fine.  What a magical season!

Dairy-fed intellect and pure, unhinged sass.


skid21's picture

I'll admit. I watched it more than once, twice or maybe more.

45has2's picture

No need to release the hounds when you can just hit 'em with Kenny G.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Kenny is one of the best back-up QBs in the country.  He's a guy we can depend on if needed.  Without him we don't have the storybook season last year.  He deserves to be a captain!  Way to go Kenny!!!
Go Bucks!

Defend Youngstown's picture

Kenny Guiton is my favorite player on this team.

LeftCoastBuck's picture

What a difference between Guiton and the Money Badger is selfless for his team...the other is selfish beyond explanation is focused on perfecting his craft...the other is focused on fame has real character...the other is a caricature 
Kenny G is a fine young man and a credit to tOSU

"Have a Coke and a smile!.....along with $150 in UM football tickets"

Rusty Buckeye's picture

I was there in the stadium for Kenny G's comeback and it was a thing of absolute beauty. One of the most thrilling comebacks I've ever seen. I can still remember belting out Carmen with my Mom after the game and slapping high fives with complete strangers. :-)

Tressel Forever

el duderino's picture

For reasons too complicated for me to possibly recount now, but completely unrelated to the course of the game (I never leave games early because of a losing effort), I left the Purdon't game at about the beginning of the fourth quarter.  After going through the roller coaster of emotions of that quarter on the ensuing drive home (the steering wheel was roundly slammed several times, for many different reasons haha), I happened to be sitting a traffic light during the break when the refs made sure Chris Fields had indeed hauled in that pivotal TD. In that time, I described to my fiancee, who I was giving a ride to, what play I though they should run for the 2 pt. conversion. "It's called the tight end pass back," I said, "where the tight end pretends to block for a second, while the quarterback and the rest of the play flows to the opposite side of the field. The TE then releases into the backside flat, where the QB finds him, presumably wide open, as the defenders will have flowed with the play to the opposite side of the field."
Needless to say, I have no way to verify this, outside of my fiancee, whose scant knowledge of football is limited to what I often tell her, knowing full well that she couldn't care less.
All that notwithstanding, I WAS RIGHT. Made the successful conversion that much sweeter.
Also, that play still gives me chills to watch.

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."