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What We Learned as Buckeyes name captains, prepare to open camp

Ohio State-Justin Fields-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is preparing for camp to start on Friday. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

What We Learned as Buckeyes name captains, prepare to open camp

COLUMBUS — His Ohio State teammates voted to give Josh Myers a platform, and he’s clearly going to use it.

The Buckeyes center gave an impassioned speech about getting the opportunity to play football this season. He fully endorsed the protocols in place on campus from the coaches all the way down to the trainers and support staff. And he also left no doubt that Ohio State won’t be lowering its expectations as it chases a national title this season, no matter what form the season ultimately takes.

Myers has always been one of the most respected guys on the Ohio State roster. And now with the additional support of a captaincy behind him, it’s clear how the majority of the Buckeyes feel about playing this year.

“I feel pretty strongly about this, and if the question didn’t come up, then I was going to say it at the end anyway,” Myers said during a teleconference on Tuesday. “I think my level of comfort in our safety is really high. There’s nothing more than our coaches and trainers and staff at Ohio State can do to keep us safe. I can’t say enough about what they’re doing, and I would say that my level of concern of safety is small — I’m not concerned.

“I personally am confident that we’re going to have a season, and I really wanted to say that with restaurants being open, bars open, other places that are open where people have the freedom to do the things they want to do — which really are probably minuscule in the importance of their lives — I just feel like if people our age can do those types of things, then I strongly feel like that if I want to, I should have the choice to play a college football season. I feel like it’s even a safer environment being around my teammates and in the facility and staying where it’s clean and safe. I think that’s a safer environment than being anywhere else and going to restaurants and things like that. So, I just wanted to voice my opinion on that. I strongly, strongly believe that. I have all the faith in the world in our coaches and trainers that they’ll keep us safe all the way through this thing.”

It’s still not entirely clear what comes next for Ohio State since the Big Ten has not released a schedule or given a green light to start training camp on Friday. But the Buckeyes are preparing as if they’ll get the chance, offering at least a small sense of normalcy on Tuesday by electing captains.

What else was there to learn from the conversation with those seven leaders? Lettermen Row is breaking down some key takeaways in What We Learned.

Justin Fields has no plans to opt out at Ohio State

The Big Ten has already had one top draft prospect elect to skip this season in favor of preparing for the NFL, but that doesn’t appear like anybody at Ohio State will be doing the same.

Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, Shaun Wade and Justin Fields all have some first-round grades already heading into this season, and from that perspective, it would perhaps be understandable if they chose not to play. But all of them pointed to the opportunity to compete with their teammates, the goals they still want to achieve and their confidence in their decisions so far while effectively opting into another year with the Buckeyes.

“I really feel like people have different situations when it comes to whether they should opt out or not,” Fields said. “Some families might not be as financially stable as others. But for me growing up as a kid, I’ve always been competitive, I’ve always been a competitor and loved to play football. Just growing up with my family, I never really needed anything and my family has provided me with everything that I’ve needed. Getting to the money as fast as I can really isn’t a priority for me. Just playing with my teammates and grinding every day with Coach Mick and doing workouts, plays, stuff like that, I’m cherishing that the most right now. Really just looking forward to the season and trying to stay as optimistic as possible right now. In terms of opting out, I can see where those guys are coming from. But I haven’t really thought of it yet.”

Buckeyes stay positive during uncertainty

Nothing has gone according to plan since Wyatt Davis announced his decision to return to the Buckeyes.

Spring camp was cancelled after three practices. The star offensive lineman had to spend months at home back in California instead of working out with the Buckeyes during the COVID-19 shutdown. And even heading into training camp, the Buckeyes haven’t definitively been giving the all-clear sign to put on the pads again.

But Davis hasn’t second-guessed his decision, and he’s continuing to lead the Buckeyes with an optimistic tone.

“It’s just one of those things with the circumstances that we’re in right now,” Davis said. “I’m just really taking it one day at a time, because I’m very optimistic for the season as well. You can really only take it one day at a time because if you start thinking about it too much, it starts consuming your mind and you start getting negative. I’ve been staying very positive about it because Ohio State has done a great job of monitoring our guys and creating a safe working environment, and you just have to hope that every other school is doing the same.”

Ryan Day counting on veteran leadership for Ohio State

Both the coaching staff and the roster are in uncharted territory when it comes to dealing with a pandemic while trying to prepare for a football season.

But the Buckeyes are blessed with numerous veterans who know what it takes to compete at a high level, and the list of captains offered a clear reminder of just how much experience the program can rely on this season. There’s a three-time captain, a sixth-year senior, a fifth-year pass-rusher who is now a two-time captain — and that’s just on the defensive side of the football.

“The hardest part for this team over the past few months and certainly the last couple weeks has just been the unknowns,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “But I promise you our leadership has kept this team hungry, and I think we’re training right now at a championship level. It’s really cool to see. … I think this group of captains is really impressive — in so many areas.”

C.J. Saunders appeal denied by NCAA

Notably absent from the list of captains? C.J. Saunders.

The veteran wide receiver isn’t even on the active roster anymore, either, after the NCAA surprisingly denied his appeal for a medical redshirt and sixth season of eligibility. Saunders is still around to provide his high-level leadership, but now his role will be transitioned to a coaching role.

“We’re disappointed he can’t play,” Day said.”But glad he can still be with us here. … He has coaching in his blood.”

Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.