Linebacker Darron Lee danced on a bench. Player after player went over to hug injured quarterback J.T. Barrett, whose right leg was propped up on a couple of chairs. Tight end Jeff Heuerman and wide receiver Evan Spencer hit head coach Urban Meyer with a Gatorade bath, while defensive tackles Michael Bennett and Chris Carter grabbed a bucket of their own and doused defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr.
Ohio State’s 59-0 thrashing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game was enough reason to celebrate, but the Buckeyes also had something else to be happy about. In the postgame locker room, several players said this is the closest team bond they’ve ever experienced.
“We’ve been waiting for this for four years. It means so much to me to be able to do this with these senior guys,” Bennett said. “And all these young guys that have contributed and take it seriously, you don’t see that in every program where the young guys look up to the seniors and look up to them and respect them the way our young guys do. That just means a lot to me because it shows how close this team is and how much we care about each other.”
One shining example of that chemistry came after the confetti had rained down and the trophies had been passed out, with only a handful of people left in the stadium. As the players slowly made their way off the field, freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan spotted a bunch of No. 14 jerseys in the first row of the stands.
Seeing the family of senior linebacker Curtis Grant, he ran over and gave each one a hug.
“Curtis has been a big brother to me and really helped me out on my journey through this freshman year,” McMillan told BuckeyeSports.com. “His family became my family, so I made sure I went to go see them before I left.”
Their relationship is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the senior captain Grant has split playing time with the true freshman McMillan. Grant, a five-star recruit, has made it his goal to give a similarly heralded recruit some of the guidance that he didn’t receive when he arrived in Columbus.
“That’s my little brother, man,” Grant said. “My family is his family and his family is my family. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him. We have a big brother-little brother relationship.
“It’s just something that happened.”
The same could be said for the entire team’s chemistry.