The freshly voted in Ohio State captains met briefly with the media yesterday.
There were no big surprises in the selections of quarterback Craig Krenzel, receiver Michael Jenkins, nose guard Tim Anderson and defensive end Will Smith. They are all seniors that have excelled on and off the field so far in their OSU careers.
"It's a great honor to be a captain at Ohio State," Smith said. "They have great tradition and a lot of great players became captain at Ohio State and I think for the four of us, it's a great honor."
Anderson is the blue-collar guy of the group and was a bit surprised by the news.
"I was, because I'm not a real vocal person," he said. "I just kind of show up and do what I'm asked and don't really say a whole lot. So, I was kind of shocked and surprised by it. But I think it just goes to show how much our teammates believe in us and respect us and think that we're quality guys that are good enough to lead this team," Anderson said.
Jenkins, on the verge of breaking David Boston's school record of career receiving yards, was pleased to hear he was voted in.
"To have our teammates trusting in us and believing that we can lead this team to win games and do the things we did last year, it's a great honor," Jenkins said.
Of course, Krenzel was the most outspoken of the group. He was basically a captain last year, but gets to do it full time this season.
"You come to a place like Ohio State and you automatically feel like you're part of something special," Krenzel said. "With all the great players that have gone on and played in the NFL, or maybe just had a college career, there are so many great players and to be a part of that is something special.
"If you can take that one step up and be a captain on an Ohio State football team, it's a great honor and it's a great challenge at the same time and I know we're all looking forward to it."
Head coach Jim Tressel considered Krenzel a captain last year, but didn't want to overwhelm his quarterback.
"I thought Craig carried himself as a captain last year – he had all the traits you would want – but I didn't want him to have to handle too much, too quick," Tressel said. "He had enough responsibilities being a first-year starter at quarterback."
Tressel doesn't follow California politics all that much, but he said there was a bit of a "recall" in terms of OSU's captains.
"We had to vote a few times," Tressel said. "I told them, ‘Guys, we can't have 10 captains.'"
Krenzel said that was an indication of how many leaders the Buckeyes have.
"We have a strong senior class and a lot of guys were deserving," he said.
With the Maurice Clarett situation still not completely resolved, Krenzel was asked what message the captains will give to the team to make sure it stays focused.
"I think to continue doing the same thing we've done," he said. "This team is focused. It's not like Tim, or Will, or Mike, or I are going to be able to look at the team and say, ‘Hey, we need to focus now.' It's something that comes within each player and it's something that all of our players have."
Krenzel is ready for a conclusion to the Clarett matter, but says the team hasn't been distracted by it. He says it is focused on opening night.
"You guys obviously aren't here to talk to just us today, or watch a scrimmage, you're here for something else that we know nothing about," he said. "When it comes out, that's fine, but our team has done a great job of focusing on Aug. 30 and a great team in the Washington Huskies and we just take it week-by-week and we're going to continue doing the same thing."
Krenzel says the offense is well ahead of where it was at the end of last year's camp.
"This year, having all the starters coming back, we started a lot quicker and the pace was a lot faster," he said. "We didn't have as much play installment, as opposed to just coming out and them calling plays and them expecting us to run it. We didn't take a lot of time to put in plays for the young guys and teach and in that respect it made it a little more difficult. But our guys did a great job and they got better every day and we're just excited to come out and play next week.
"We're going to score more points this year," Krenzel added. "We want to make it easier on these guys right here (points at Anderson and Smith). No more 10-7 ballgames. Not that we wouldn't take a 10-7 victory, but it's a challenge for us offensively. With all returning experience we have and all the talent we have, it's going to be a major disappointment for us if we don't come out and play real well and score a lot of points and take some pressure off our defense and special teams."
So, who had the edge this camp? The Buckeye offense, or defense?
"Defense," Smith replied without hesitation. "We've got the red jerseys back, so I think we had the edge. But, the offense, like Craig said, they performed great this camp. Defensive-wise, a lot of the young guys stepped up and showed what they're capable of."
With so much at stake this year, there could be more pressure placed on the captains.
"Absolutely," Smith said. "I think that's definitely the case coming off a national championship season. I think there is going to be more pressure on these captains than there were prior to this streak, but that's just adversity and we've got handle it."
The group was asked what they have in common with each other.
"I think we all give 110 percent every play," Jenkins said. "We do whatever we need to do to win for our team. With these guys up front on defense pressuring every play, Craig making plays at the line, myself making plays down the field, we're going to give everything we've got and we're going to fight to the bitter end. I think that's a quality that we all possess."
Krenzel elaborated on those comments.
"I think one interesting thing about the four of us is that I don't really look at any of us as one of the more vocal guys on the team," Krenzel said. "I think our teammates voted us captains because of what we do on the field and our work-ethic all summer, during spring and through the season. I think that has spoken a lot to the teammates. We have a number of other guys that do more vocal stuff, so it's kind of interesting in that respect."One thing we won't have to endure this season is the weekly "rotating captains" that the Bucks had on offense last year. That gave a lot of different guys opportunities to be captains, but it's nice to see they went with the traditional approach this year. Tressel wants his captains to be seniors and there just weren't many players to choose from on offense last year.