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‘Your best football teams are player-led’: How UH chose its 2020 captains

Senior linebacker Grant Stuard (right) is one of eight team captains for UH in 2020. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

Senior linebacker Grant Stuard (right) is one of eight team captains for UH in 2020. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

Football captains are typically thought of as the four guys who go out to midfield for the coin toss and then their leadership duties are done for the rest of the game, but that is not the case with this year’s UH football team captains.

The Cougars took a unique approach in choosing this season’s team captains, led by football operations director Ryan Dorchester and team strength coach Darl Bauer.

Dorchester and Bauer read Sam Walker’s “Captain Class” during the last season, which inspired them to change UH’s approach to choosing team captains.

The book looked at 17 teams in the history of sports that were the elite of the elite, and the one thing it found was that each team had elite captains.

After reading the book, Dorchester and Bauer came up with a list of 25 guys on the team that possessed some of the leadership qualities the book talked about.

They then developed their own curriculum and had meetings with this group of guys, which started out in-person but was moved to Zoom due to COVID-19,  to teach them about what it meant to be a leader.

“Leadership is something that is obviously very important,” Dorchester said. “Your best football teams are player-led or player-driven.”

These meetings really had an impact on the group of 25 players, as they began to put what they learned to practice.

“It made those guys hungry to lead,” Dorchester said. “You could see the guys in that group trying to do those different things.”

The team then voted from the group of 25 players as to who would serve as team captains this season, but they did not go into the vote knowing the exact number of players they would name as captains.

“I didn’t know I was going to have eight (captains) and I think every year that numbers going to be different based on the makeup of your team, based on how the votes come in and based on the maturity of your team,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said on his weekly radio show Thursday evening.

After everything was said and done, eight players were named team captains for 2020:

-Senior offensive lineman Braylon Jones

-Junior quarterback Clayton Tune

-Senior cornerback Damarion Williams

-Junior linebacker Donavan Mutin

-Senior linebacker Grant Stuard

-Senior running back Kyle Porter

-Senior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson

-Senior defensive lineman Payton Turner

Holgorsen is impressed by each one of the Cougars’ eight captains, seeing all of them as the type of leaders the program needs, on and off the field.

“Our guys want to lead,” Holgorsen said. “Captains are guys you want to respect. If I got eight kids that are worthy, I’m all about it.

“It ain’t about the coin toss at midfield,” he added. “It’s about what they do in the locker room. It’s about when they stand up what they say. It’s about approaching kids that need (help), whether it’s positive or negative. It’s about getting those guys to understand what their role is on the team.”

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