Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
CHICAGO – ESPN said it had “all access” during its recent run of programing focused on Ohio State football’s fall practices, but there remains at least one element of the team that few have infiltrated.
OSU coach Urban Meyer has a hand-picked collective of players on the 2012 Buckeyes squad that have demonstrated leadership abilities. This “leadership committee,” as Meyer and some of the players involved refer to the operation, assembles for meetings under Meyer’s direction and discusses “confidential” subjects related to team business.
Meyer appeared at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago July 27, and was accompanied by three players he confirmed to be members of the leadership committee – senior defensive lineman John Simon, redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino and senior fullback
Zach Boren. Meyer and the three players, who were each named co-captains of the 2012 team along with senior running back Jordan Hall and redshirt senior defensive lineman Garret Goebel, did not seem eager to divulge information regarding the existence or activities of the group. Meyer did say OSU fans can rest assured knowing the clandestine meetings do indeed benefit the football team.
“Yeah, it’s not secret,” Meyer said of the leadership committee. “We are very confidential in everything we discuss. Every place I’ve (coached), I’ve had a group of players that are my leadership.”
Meyer smirked quickly after finishing that thought – it was all he had to say about the leadership committee. The smile showed the playful nature with which he guards the secret society, and his players follow suit.
Simon chuckled, avoided eye contact and ran his hand down his face as he conceded that the group does maintain a level of secrecy, saying “yeah, it’s kind of secret.”
Simon wouldn’t confirm the number of players in the leadership committee saying only, “there’s a couple (players).”
“Coach Meyer just gets us together and we’ll discuss topics on the team really,” Simon said. “We kind of just sit down and talk.”
Boren was more loose-lipped in discussing the leadership committee – he confirmed that eight OSU players of varying class years comprise Meyer’s committee. He also explained how he and his fellow leadership committee members act on Meyer’s call to lead.
Some of Boren’s actions as a leader will manifest themselves on the field during the upcoming season – during Big Ten Media Days,
Boren said he expects to see more of the football in running situations as a fullback. Off the field, he’s a motivator to young players.
“Just preach what (Meyer) preaches. If we weren’t telling guys to get out there and do stuff, we don’t know if they would. So we kinda take it upon ourselves to make sure everyone’s doing the right thing,” Boren said. “Sending out mass texts to guys telling them they have to be, you know, do certain drills here … and pulling them with us.
“Instead of doing stuff on our own like maybe we did in the past, you know, now we’re pulling guys with us.”
Boren said the members of the committee are quicker to vocalize their concerns too.
Speaking your mind, and therefore bettering the team, is part of the deal as a member of the committee, he said.
“There’s some guys on our leadership committee that weren’t very vocal in, let’s say, January or February of years past. And now that they’re on the committee they kind of have a, not a sense of pride, but they’re not scared to open up their mouths,” Boren said. “(They) become what we need.”
Meyer’s leadership committee, along with the rest of the Buckeyes, will take the field for its season-opening game against Miami University (Ohio) Sept. 1 at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.