COLUMBUS, Ohio - According to the Ohio State roster, Urban Meyer's first staff as Buckeyes' head coach consists of himself and 10 assistant coaches, but recently he's taken an 11th- albeit unofficial- coach under his wing.
Speaking during his weekly press conference following OSU's 56-14 win over Miami (OH) in his debut as the Buckeyes' coach, Meyer referred to Kenny Guiton as "Coach Guiton," due to the backup quarterback's preparation and sideline role during the team's win over the RedHawks. While aiding starter Braxton Miller off the field and subbing in for him when the Buckeyes' starter came out of the game with leg cramps, Guiton was graded with a winning performance on Saturday by Meyer's staff, which made him a part of Meyer's first 'Champions Club' of the season.
"He does some things. He made a couple of checks out there, and he does it without the reps, so a lot of his things are mental reps, so really appreciate Kenny Guiton," Meyer said. "His nickname from this point forward is 'Coach Guiton.'"
The nickname is cool by Guiton, who never rose higher than third on OSU's depth chart during his first three seasons in Columbus, and now finds himself receiving almost weekly public praise from his head coach.
"It's a sign of respect, saying that I know my stuff basically," Guiton said. "That's cool."
The Houston, Texas native was initially caught off guard by Meyer's new moniker for him, which he said he earned due to the firm grasp that he has on the first-year OSU coach's spread offense.
"We was just talking about the offense- everything about the offense- just the understanding I have of it," Guiton said. "Just one time he called me, 'What's up, Coach Guiton?" as he passed by me and I just kind of looked at him. It was funny though."
Guiton's new nickname is a far cry from Meyer's initial impression of him, when the OSU coach wasn't sure the quarterback would last in Columbus under his regime. But after getting to know the Eisenhower high school product, Meyer no longer had to give him pop quizzes to make sure he was paying attention and felt comfortable with him taking on a crucial leadership role on the team.
"When he first got here, I don't think he knew I was a guy that was going to work hard that I everything I wanted and everything like that," Meyer said. "Once he noticed that and then it got to the football stuff and I focused in and got all the offense down and I'm doing pretty good with it, and now it's like Coach Guiton."
In the second half on Saturday, however, Guiton had to put his coaching duties on hold. When Miller twice left the game due cramping issues in his legs, Guiton traded in his headset for a helmet and went onto the field for the first significant playing time of his OSU career.
Despite the unexpected circumstances that led to his debut under Meyer, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback said he went into the game nerve-free on Saturday.
"I felt for him, but at the same time I was excited to just get a shot to go into the game," Guiton said. "I didn't panic or anything, just started warming up, got ready to go."
The fourth-year junior responded well, completing 5-of-9 passes for 37 yards. Guiton credited his success on the field to the same efforts that earned him his new nickname off of it.
"I felt like it was a little easier to relax and not having played much, like, aw man, you don't know exactly what to expect," Guiton said. "I practice against the best every day. So just going out there and competing against someone else makes it a lot easier."
Guiton said that getting his first real taste of playing college football on Saturday only made him hungry for more. But he also said that whenever his career as a player ends, he could see himself making his coaching career official.
"I could see myself becoming a coach just because of the love of the game," Guiton said. "I love the game, I understand it, and I definitely could see that."