Demorrio Williams, Jammal Lord, Trevor Johnson and Judd Davies. Those are the captains for the 2003-2004 Nebraska Cornhusker football team. An honor bestowed to each not from the coaches who look to elect leaders, but from the team itself, acknowledging to each through their votes that they were the ones the entire group wanted to have lead them through the up-coming season.
And what a season to lead, after a season where it seemed nobody would or at least could, these four have now the duty to be captains and be the leaders that the title makes them. It sounds like a burden, but everyone on the team knows that each has just received possibly the biggest honor they will ever know. "It's an honor." Jammal Lord said of being voted a captain. "They didn't vote for you because they like you. They vote for you because of respect and it's just a good feeling."
A respect that Lord earned the hard way last year, bearing the blame for most of the Huskers' dismal defeats. It's for him that new captain, Trevor Johnson is happy, along with his elation over receiving it himself. "He had a lot of crap thrown his way last year." Trevor said of Lord. "A lot of undeserving crap. He's the type of guy that if you are going to war, you want him right next to you, just because he cares so much about his team."
What seems to be almost fitting about this year's selection of captains is that it covers the gamut in personalities. While you have Trevor Johnson who's the consummate defender without a voice, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Demorrio, admittedly the first one to get in there and motivate his team. "I'm the type of guy that goes in there and really talks the defense up." Williams said of why he thinks he was voted captain. "I'm always trying to get the defense up and get them pumped."
You then have Jammal Lord, who for all his time here will be a starter for just his second year, while Judd Davies will now be going into his third year at the top of the depth chart. Regardless of tenure at the top of the depth chart aside, each knows in their mind what the significance of being a captain means. "It comes down to being a leader." Davies said. "I've got to be the guy people look to if we are down or we are up." Lord stated that being a captain isn't an honor just for what it means now, but what it means because of all those that carried the title before him. "All the captains in the system from way back in the day, it's like a fraternity and it's a good feeling." he said.
The starting QB probably summed it up the best when he tried to pin down what makes each new captain unique. "Everybody has their own style to them." Lord said. "Demorrio, he likes to talk a lot, but he plays hard. Trevor is a silent assassin. He does everything on the hush. (And) Me and Judd, we are just different, from different parts of the world, but we are here and trying to get our same goal together."
The goal? Ok, that's obvious. How to get there? Well, that's what this off-season has been all about. The trials, the tribulations and all the off-season moves. The appointing of captains might seem minor in the grand scope of things, especially after the drama that has taken place between last season and this one, but don't tell that to the captains, especially not Demorrio Williams. He's taking it as if being a captain could make all the difference in the world. "For me, it means I have to take it to another level." he said. "I feel I have to lead this team not by talking, but with my play on the field."
You probably couldn't have picked a wider variety of players if you tried. From silent to near deafening. From a veteran to a person while a veteran is still so very new. Maybe it's the contrasts that make it such an intriguing combination.
Either way, the role of captains won't change this year despite the season prior. In fact, their job might have gotten tougher. Who then better to lead the team back to the promise land than players who the team chose themselves?
One thing is for certain though and Trevor Johnson probably said it best in that this team might have four captains, but they won't be the only leaders on the field this year. "There's four guys that are picked out to be captains." he said. "But, we got a ton of leaders on the team that will also step it up when the team is getting down."
"I can think of a few guys off the top of my head that could just as likely be captains."
"Isn't an honor that they chose us."
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619