Kamryn Babb still has high hopes of making an impact on the court while providing valuable leadership for Ohio State

Kamryn Babb’s value as a leader within Ohio State’s football program was evident during last month’s spring game at Ohio Stadium.

Although Babb was unable to participate in the match due to injury, he orchestrated the most memorable moment of the day. After a video honoring former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (who died a week earlier) played on the scoreboard immediately after the end of the first half, Babb led a prayer in front of any the team and a crowd of 60,007 fans.

For the fans who stood in silence as Babb shared his message with the Buckeyes, this was perhaps their first glimpse of what Babb means to the Ohio State football team as a spiritual leader.

For his teammates and coaches within the program, that’s what they see every day.

“He always spends time with his teammates. He’s always trying, if someone’s having a bad day, he’s there. If someone is having a good day, he is there. He’s the kind of guy you want to be around,” Ohio State athletic performance director Mickey Marotti said earlier this month. “I just want to be with this guy. He means so much to this program. You just have no idea what it means.

Four years into his career at Ohio State, Babb has yet to catch a single pass. He didn’t even play a wink in three of his four seasons as Buckeye. After tearing his right ACL as a senior in high school, Babb tore his left ACL during summer practice as a real freshman in 2018, then tore the same ACL again. during spring training in 2019. He played occasionally (for a total of 31 offensive snaps) during Ohio State’s COVID-shortened season in 2020, but missed all of last season after tearing his right ACL for the second time.

Those injuries prevented Babb from having the on-court impact he was meant to have when he arrived at Ohio State as the No. 73 overall prospect and 13th-ranked receiver in the 2018 recruiting class. But being sidelined hasn’t stopped Babb from being an inspiration to his teammates off the pitch.

“He’s a guy that rubs off on other guys,” Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline said. “What are they saying, surround yourself with people you want to become, right? So those who are maybe on the fence from a religious standpoint or a from a positive standpoint or from a guidance standpoint, Kam is there to push you over the edge. Being around guys like that with high energy, it’s really hard to bring in bad energy. You’d have to more trying to fight the kind of energy he brings than just accepting it in. So Kam does a great job of slacking off on the guys and making our bedroom a better bedroom because of who he is.

“He would be a guy who, looking back, probably had more of an impact on others than maybe anyone else on this team. So a very special young man.

Kamryn Babb led the Ohio State football team in prayer during a halftime tribute to Dwayne Haskins at the April spring game.

Despite all the bad luck he’s had with injuries, Babb continues to breathe positivity. He acknowledges that there were days in the midst of all the setbacks he suffered that he wondered if he should continue playing football. But he credits his faith, teammates, Ohio State staff and family for keeping him motivated.

“Jesus Christ, my lord, my savior, my father, he is everything to me. It’s his story, and as long as he’s behind me, it doesn’t matter who else is,” Babb said at a press conference in March. “But this team, I can tell you, is behind me, my family and my loved ones. So I’m just grateful for them and all the fans who are, I’m grateful to them too. And I just hope I can show them what I have to bring to the table.

Babb believes the adversity he has faced over the past four years has made him mentally and spiritually stronger.

“I don’t know if I would be the same man if I hadn’t been through all that stuff,” Babb said. “So I’m grateful to have gone through all of them.”

Although he spent most of his career at Ohio State in the training room, Babb says he also got stronger physically. Babb said in March his knees felt as good as they’ve ever felt, even though he tore both ACLs twice. And he worked hard to keep improving as a football player although he couldn’t play or even train much.

“You’d think somebody with four ACLs, you’d have arthritis or you’ve got something going on in your knees or your body. And really, I feel great,” Babb said. It’s probably the fastest and strongest I’ve ever been, and it’s growing every year. I do a lot of things in a weight room, so even though I wasn’t here doing things on the court, I was still weight training, I was still running.

Later in March, after that interview session, Babb suffered another setback that sidelined him for the rest of spring training. Thankfully, he avoided a serious injury this time around, and Ohio State coaches expect him to be full for summer practices.

“We had a small bump in the road which worried us a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal,” said Ryan Day. “I thought until this training he really trained at a high level. I really had a chance to make an impact on that attack, and I think he will.

Babb was receiving rave reviews for his performance in spring training prior to this injury. CJ Stroud said Babb “looks amazing,” and fellow wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. said he thinks Babb “is definitely going to play a big role” this season.

Although Babb hasn’t been able to fully showcase his skills in real play since he was in high school, the fifth-year senior — who still has two years of Ohio State eligibility — still has great aspirations for what he can accomplish as a wide receiver for the Buckeyes. If he can stay healthy and earn a role in Ohio State’s wide receiver rotation this fall, Babb thinks Ohio State fans will be impressed with what they see.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” Babb said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like or what it’s going to look like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But in my head, I have a certain image, and I’m as ready as anyone else.

What will fans see when they can finally watch Babb play? Babb, who weighs 6 feet and 205 pounds, describes himself as a “physical and explosive guy” and “someone who is not afraid to step up and take the ball”. Jaxon Smith-Njigba supported this assessment, describing his compatriot as a “crazy athlete”.

“When he’s there, he’s just an explosive player, a great player,” Smith-Njigba said. “Honestly, I can’t wait to see him play. I don’t want to talk too much about it, because I know that when it comes out, everything that’s said, all the answers will have an answer.

“Every time he comes back, he makes big plays. So we just pray that we all stay healthy and that we can all contribute to a national championship.

Hartline says Babb “is totally capable and has all the tools to be a very capable receiver.”

“He is a very consistent player. He is strong, smart, catches the ball well. Does anything you ask him,” Hartline said. “There is nothing missing. There’s nothing he can’t be an Ohio State wide receiver.”

Babb will need to be healthy in preseason camp if he wants to play a major role in Ohio State’s receiver rotation this year, as the Buckeyes have no shortage of talented wide players competing for playing time. Smith-Njigba, Harrison, Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming are expected to lead the rotation while Jayden Ballard, Xavier Johnson and the freshman quartet of Kyion Grayes, Caleb Burton, Kaleb Brown and Kojo Antwi will also compete for spots on the two depths. .

Babb says he doesn’t care how much playing time he’ll get. Rather, it’s fair to try and prove he can help the Buckeyes on the court this year, trusting Day and Hartline to ultimately make the decisions that put the team in the best position to win.

“We have so many good receivers in this room, so how dare I be selfish?” Babb said. “I want everyone to eat, and I want everyone to have theirs, because everyone deserves to shine. So every time my number is called, I just want to play this game.

“Obviously I want to play, and everybody in this room wants to play, but I think we’re such a tight-knit group of guys, man, everybody wants everybody to do their best. It’s bigger than me, so it’s not about touches and stuff, it’s about what I can do to help this team, and I just want to do my best.

No matter how much Babb plays this fall, he’ll be one of the Buckeyes’ best point guards. He’s one of three returning captains from last season, along with defensive end Zach Harrison and linebacker Teradja Mitchell, and the likely favorite to step into the Block 0 uniform this year due to his character and skill. perseverance. In an offseason where Ohio State has focused on leadership, Babb could be as important to that effort as anyone else on the roster.

“He would be a guy who, looking back, probably had more of an impact on others than maybe anyone else on this team.”– Brian Hartline on Kamryn Babb

That said, Babb believes he can have a bigger presence as a leader if he’s on the field to contribute. And he is optimistic that he will finally be able to do so in 2022.

“It was a challenge when you weren’t playing and still trying to motivate yourself, but now that you’re actually playing and you can actually produce on the pitch, I think it’s a bit different,” Babb said. . “It’s bigger than me, and I know in my head, if I can get through this, maybe someone who’s struggling with the same thing or even something worse can look at my story and be like ‘He did it, why can’t I?’ Because I am no different from the others.

He will certainly have many people rooting for his success this season, especially among those who accompany him every day at Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“I can talk for hours about Kam Babb and what he did. Being captain, everything he’s been through,” Day said. “And so we are Kam Babb fans here. Everyone loves Kam. … And if he can stay healthy, he will definitely have an impact on this offense.

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