The Ohio State Buckeyes won’t lack leadership Thursday night in their season opener against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. The team elected a record nine captains — five from the defense and four from the offense — 10 days before the game.
Even coach Urban Meyer admitted, “That’s a lot,” though he didn’t apologize for not being more selective.
“I remember when Mike Vrabel was here he was in our staff meeting,” Meyer said, “and he mentioned that he was not elected captain, which blew my mind and it’s because — once again, it’s none of my business— but back then they limited it to three or four.”
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The Buckeyes had seven captains in 2016, six in 2015, five in 2014, eight in 2013 and five in 2012, Meyer’s first season. There were always players who acted like captains but didn’t have the official title.
This year, quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Billy Price, wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell, linebacker Chris Worley and defensive linemen Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Tracy Sprinkle and Jalyn Holmes are all captains.
“I’m thinking that’s one of greatest honors you could ever have,” Meyer said. “Why would you take that from a guy that’s deserving? Since that conversation I had with (Vrabel), whoever deserves it is going to be captain, and it will be on the wall, down the hallway, and you’ll forever be known on your resumeas a captain of the Ohio State University football program.”
That fact wasn’t lost on McLaurin, one of six first-time captains in the group.
“No matter how the season goes, good or bad, nobody can take that way from you,” McLaurin said. “You can come back and I’ll bring my kids someday and show them their dad was captain. I shared (the news) with my mom and my dad. They’ve been there since day one when I redshirted and didn’t travel. Sometimes I didn’t think I could last here. Hard work, dedication and prayer has helped me take steps every year. Just to be recognized by your peers as a leader both on the field and off the field, you can’t ask for more than that.”
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Four of the captains — Barrett, Price, Lewis and Sprinkle — have already earned their degrees. Barrett is the first three-time captain in Ohio State history. Price and Lewis were captains last season and are the ninth and 10th two-time captains in school history.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s group has the most representatives.
“I think all four of us bring something different to the table,” Hubbard said. “We all deserve to be captain. The fact that we have four in the same position room is really something special. It’s something coach Johnson has created. He’s developed us into the men we are.”