When Urban Meyer was in Chicago for the Big Ten Media Days, he was asked who his captains might be for the upcoming season.
While Meyer was noncommittal at the time, he did tip his hand by pointing to seniors Johnny Simon, Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino, the three players he took with him to the July confab.
“I know who a couple of them are going to be because they’re here,” Meyer said.
It turns out those three players are set to be Ohio State captains – with two more joining them. Seniors Garrett Goebel and Jordan Hall have also been selected as team captains, Ohio State announced on Sunday afternoon.
The quintet was chosen by teammates via a vote.
“Announcing who are team captains is one of the great honors I get to do as head coach,” Meyer said in a release. “We had a number of guys get votes. This is a really good group of seniors who I am very proud to have leading this team.”
Those five are now tasked with a big honor. Meyer prizes leaders on his team and has talked extensively about how his best squads have had outstanding leaders that push everyone to a new level.
When asked about the leaders on his current team in Chicago, Meyer described what he’s looking for in those players.
“They’re grown men,” he said. “It’s not child – they’re man conversations. You’re going to have those when you have 105 players from 18 to 22 years old. You’re going to have some younger guys that act young. You can’t have grown man conversations with them.
“But to sit with John Simon there’s none of this. It’s conversation because I want to hear it. I respect what that guy says. When he has something to say, I want to hear it – probably more than anybody that I’ve (met) in Columbus, Ohio. If I had a question, that’s the person I want to talk to. Zach Boren is right there with him, and Sabino’s the other one. That’s what I mean. Leadership is you cross that line that you’re a man now. Tell me what your thoughts are. You have to earn that.”
Simon’s choice was not a surprise. Meyer basically admitted the defensive lineman with a legendary work ethic – particularly in the weight room – would be a captain all the way back in April, and Sabino has said the Youngstown, Ohio, native is the leader of the defense.
“John is a guy who does everything right,” Sabino said. “He’s a great football player and an even better person.”
Added Simon, “Being named captain means a lot. I appreciate the votes of the players. This is one of the biggest honors a player can receive and I’ll be proud to lead this team along with four other great guys. We’ll have a really good season if we all lead well.”
Boren’s choice is not a big surprise as well as the fullback from Pickerington is going into his fourth year as a starter and has been one of the more vocal players on the team in recent seasons.
He also seemed to have his finger on what Meyer wants out of his leaders before the captains were chosen.
“It’s just someone who takes care of themselves and prides themselves on being the best they can possible be and doing the right things,” Boren said. “It’s basically being a grown man.”
Sabino is not a surprise choice. The fifth-year linebacker from Miami has had ups and downs in his career – he played sparingly in his first three years at OSU before making five starts last year – but has quickly earned Meyer’s respect for his work ethic and personality.
“I take pride in that,” Sabino said of his leadership skills. “You want to be that leader, you want guys to come for you to help. You want to be a guy people look to.”
Hall, a senior running back from Jeannette, Pa., has also become a Meyer favorite. The head coach has repeatedly praised the back – who is expected to miss the first few games after suffering an offseason foot injury – for his work in the classroom and his serious nature.
“This is a dream come true,” Hall said in a release. “I was hoping to be named a captain but I was also a little surprised when it happened. I can’t thank my teammates enough for selecting me for this honor.”
Goebel is a naturally quiet kid, but the defensive lineman from suburban Chicago has become a prominent part of the Ohio State charge the past few seasons.
“I’m excited,” he said in a release. “It is an honor that your teammates think that highly of you to name you a captain. I’m going to put everything I have into this responsibility.”
The five have combined for 185 games played and 74 starts. Boren leads the group with 27 starts with Simon at 26 and Goebel (13), Sabino and Hall (five each) following.
Simon becomes just the seventh two-time captain in school history and the first since James Laurinaitis was named captain in 2007 and again in 2008.