September 4, 2012

Goebel at home as Buckeyes' unsung hero

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - John Simon might collect all of the glory and sacks, and Johnathan Hankins might be quickly rising up NFL scouts' draft boards, but the success of the stars of the Ohio State defense might not be possible if not for the presence of an unheralded member of the Buckeyes' defensive line.

It's hard to imagine that there's a less glamorous defensive position in football than nose guard. But while the current player occupying that position for the Buckeyes, Garrett Goebel might not sell jerseys or create highlight reels, he's certainly earned the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches.

The Villa Park, Ill. native was voted by his teammates as one of OSU's five captains for the 2012 season, and Buckeyes' head coach Urban Meyer couldn't be any happier with their selection.

"I love the guy. He's who we want at Ohio State," Meyer said of Goebel. "Just a tough guy, no nonsense, and plays hard."

For his part, Goebel said that it was an honor to be named a captain by teammates.

"I was just excited," Goebel said. "I was just really honored that my teammates thought that highly of me to elect me captain."

Meyer hasn't been short on praise for the Buckeyes' nose guard, referring to him as one of the team's most improved players on the defensive side of the ball. The first-year Buckeyes coach admitted that he didn't foresee Goebel becoming a captain when he arrived in Columbus less than a year ago.

"I didn't know Garrett the first four months I was here," Meyer said. "Probably a guy that doesn't look real good when we're running around cones, but he plays really good as a 'G' and an inside guy and tough as nails."

Soft-spoken and somewhat shy, Goebel doesn't always carry the demeanor of a prototypical captain when he meets with the media. But the fifth-year senior insists that a different sort of a beast is unleashed when he's out on the field.

"My attitude's definitely different when I'm off the field. When, I'm on the field, I'm just locked in, knowing what I have to do and how I'm going to do it," Goebel said. "I'd say that definitely, you have to hit the center and at any time a guard could come down and hit you right in the ribs and you can't really have a smile on your face if you get hit in the ribs."

Having played nose guard at Ohio State from 1993-96, perhaps there's nobody in Columbus who understands what Goebel deals with on a daily basis more than current Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.

"He's that unsung hero. And I'm just so happy that Coach (Meyer) really points it out. I think he's really grown on him," Fickell said. "He sees what we try to do as a defense and what we ask that guy sometimes to do, and it doesn't come up in the stat sheet, you guys might not interview him a whole lot, crown him a star or whatever you call it, but he is definitely one of the center points of our defense. And to be named captain, I think, what an unbelievable feat."

Perhaps it's Goebel's quiet and unassuming nature that makes him such a natural fit to not only play nose guard at Ohio State, but earn the right to be named captain through his work and not his words.

"I never really thought about it too in-depth. I just go out there and work as hard as I can," Goebel said. "All you can do is work as hard as you can, do your best, and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself."


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