COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kamryn Babb’s had every reason to lose hope. As knee injuries have piled up and prevented him from seeing significant playing time, Babb’s attitude and perspective have allowed him to clear the many hurdles that have been placed in front of him.
As a result of that, Babb on Saturday was chosen to represent Ohio State with its Block “O” jersey this season. It’s a fitting honor to a player who has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that one’s impact on a team goes far beyond statistics and playing time.
“The last five years have been a long journey,” Babb said. “There were times when I was down and had a lot of questions. But God put people in my life who wouldn’t let me give up and it’s been a blessing. I couldn’t have done this without them.”
Babb’s on-field career at Ohio State has been marked by a series of stops and starts – mostly stops. He tore his ACL early in the summer before his first training camp, missing all of the 2018 season. Babb then missed the entirety of the 2019 season after another injury during spring practice. He was healthy in 2020 and proved to be a key contributor on special teams. Early in spring practice in 2021, however, he suffered another knee injury and was lost for the rest of the year.
While his time on the field has been limited, Babb has proven to be a vital part of the Buckeyes’ team culture in the locker room and off the field. Quite simply, Babb has been a model student-athlete who is universally regarded by teammates and coaches as a leader. In addition to being a captain and Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Babb had the honor last fall of speaking at the investiture of President Kristina M. Johnson.
“I’ve learned that you can’t get through tough times all by yourself,” said Babb. “You have to grab on to someone. I hope everyone sees that. I love this team and I can’t wait to go on this journey that’s ahead of us.”
Ohio State’s tradition of awarding the Block “0” began in 2019 and is inspired by one of the all-time greats to ever don the Scarlet and Gray: Bill Willis. A defensive end whose career spanned from 1942-44, Willis was an All-American and national champion during his time with the Buckeyes. He later went on to break the color barrier in the National Football League as a member of the Cleveland Browns and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.
Willis’ No. 99 is retired at Ohio State, and what he stood for – toughness, accountability and the highest of character – are values that the current-day Buckeyes strive for every day. And nobody better exemplifies those traits than Babb, which is why Day and his staff chose him to represent the No. 0 jersey this year.
The inaugural recipient of the Block 0 was Jonathon Cooper, followed last year by offensive lineman Thayer Munford. Babb is the first non-Ohioan to earn the Block O. He’s a native of St. Louis, Mo. and graduate of St. Louis Christian Brothers College.
“It’s an honor to have this number attached to my name,” said Babb. “With it comes the responsibility to lead this team any way that I can.”