Wins start in the trenches. For Rutgers, so does leadership.
Rutgers coach Chris Ash announced his team captains Wednesday morning and all four come in the form of senior linemen. Key cogs in the elite Class of 2012, Darius Hamilton, Chris Muller, Derrick Nelson and Julian Pinnix-Odrick become team captains in Ash's first season.
“It's been a very long journey but I wouldn't change any minute, any second of it,” Hamilton said. “I've learned a lot, I've grown a lot. I'm just really thankful to get out and get the opportunity to play ball again.”
Hamilton and Pinnix-Odrick represented Rutgers at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago while Muller and Nelson both bring starting experience.
“The biggest thing for me is consistent leadership,” Nelson said. “I need to be able to lead my guys along with the starting linemen right now. I think that's the biggest thing for me.”
Hamilton is now a three-time team captain for Rutgers as the highest-rated recruit in school history. After a year of off-the-field leadership and injury rehabilitation, Hamilton hopes to lead by example in a return to the field next week.
“From a football standpoint, I would say I took the game for granted a lot,” Hamilton said on his injury. “I thought it was something that will always be there for me. Even when you're out there on those hot days, nobody really wants to be out there dying, you kind of try to fast-forward in your mind. When you aren't there, every week that I had to sit out a game, that got harder and harder. I'm just blessed I have the right people around me – stability, comforting me when I needed it the most. I wouldn't have made it through that.”null