COLUMBUS — Ohio State pastes it everywhere. On social media. Throughout the athletic facilities. On graphics.
Former Buckeyes in the NFL tout it every Saturday in the fall and again on Sundays after a jersey swap.
It’s the brotherhood, and it’s not just a mantra preached from the rooftops of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to persuade recruits to join the football program. It’s a real thing.
Just ask the 14 early enrollees who were on campus for two months before being sent home amid the coronavirus pandemic. They all saw it and lived it for just a short period of time, but it certainly will help them to have that experience while sitting at home instead of inside the football facility with their veteran teammates.
“It’s no joke,” Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a five-star wide receiver, said back in February. “The brotherhood is real. You see it on Twitter, you see it on Instagram, you see it on social media about the brotherhood. The brotherhood is real. And my older brothers take me under their wings, and I’ve learned a lot from them. When you’re at your lowest point, especially in a workout, they’re there to build you up, and the brotherhood is real.”
Most early enrollees arrived back to campus during the first week of January. They had two months with Mickey Marotti and the strength staff, along with some time in meeting rooms with their respective position coaches.
Those two months gave the newcomers a chance to learn everything from work ethic to pieces of the playbook before the facility was shut down and they were ordered to return home. But that didn’t happen before veteran Ohio State leaders already showed the younger players how to handle the grind of an offseason.
“Just the fact the older guys especially were able to open their arms so much toward me so early,” hybrid defender Kourt Williams said. “When they say brotherhood, it really is a brotherhood.”
Some of the early enrollees knew about the brotherhood long before they arrived on campus. Lejond Cavazos has interacted with enough past and present Ohio State players during his commitment, decommitment and recommitment that he understood it. Others did, too, because it’s brought up so often on the recruiting trail.
But seeing it in action is an entirely different experience. And junior offensive lineman Wyatt Davis is setting a perfect example for how to act on the brotherhood and be a leader. Williams went to the same high school as Davis. He can see that Davis has embraced the brotherhood.
“Wyatt is a great leader, a great dude, a great person, and we talk a little bit, make sure I’m OK and all that,” Williams said. “It’s been great seeing him in the position that he’s in, just in terms of his leadership role and how successful he’s been, which is great to see.
“[Ohio State] is really a brotherhood.”
Ohio State preaches a brotherhood, an unbreakable bond between Buckeyes past, present and future, that encompasses every aspect of football — and college life for everyone involved within the football program. It’s how some Buckeyes get jobs after graduating and moving on from football. It’s the reason the team is so close as a collective unit.
It’s even why recruits choose Ohio State.
“It’s part of the reason I made that decision — the culture here and the Brotherhood and just the family atmosphere,” defensive lineman Jacolbe Cowan said. “Ever since I’ve got here on January 5, they just welcomed me with open arms and I’ve been working hard and the plan is continue to work hard day by day.”
Right now, the early enrollees can’t work day by day alongside the veterans. That will change soon as the Buckeyes are able to get into the athletic facilities starting June 8. But it’s never really about being able to workout together and spend time in the same football building.
Because the brotherhood isn’t confined to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The early enrollees found that out quickly.