When the Colorado football team met last month to vote on captains, linebacker Kenneth Olugbode never expected he'd be nominated.
The senior was not only nominated, but elected as one of five captains for this season. He may have been a bit surprised, but head coach Mike MacIntyre was not.
"I've known Kenneth since he was a ninth-grader and I've known his family," MacIntyre said. "Great parents, great character in his family, and he exudes that. He's very intelligent, he's an extremely hard worker. The team respects him on the field, off the field."
For Olugbode, it's an honor he doesn't take lightly as he and the Buffaloes aim to end their 10-year streak of losing seasons.
"It means I have a lot of these guys' respect, and based on that, I still have to earn their respect regardless, but I have to make a good name (personally) and help the team out," he said.
"My mom has always talked about being a leader, so to me ... being a captain or not, it doesn't matter; you should be a leader regardless."
While he may not be the most vocal of leaders, the example Olugbode has set for teammates is second to none.
"He's very well-rounded (as a person), just like his football game; he's a very well-rounded football player," MacIntyre said. "He's respected immensely on our football team."
A product of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Calif., Olugbode has become a rock in the middle of the CU defense, starting 23 of the Buffs' last 25 games (he missed two games with a leg injury last season).
In 2014, he led the Buffs with 83 tackles and recovered two fumbles. Last season, he tied for third on team with 80 tackles and had a 60-yard interception return for touchdown that helped the Buffs knock off rival Colorado State.
Despite his success to this point, Olugbode worked to get even better in the offseason.
"I just took care of my body, ate really well and sat down to watch a lot of film to be a lot better on the field," he said.
Olugbode's motivation stems not only from the competition for playing time at inside linebacker — Olugbode, junior Addison Gillam, sophomore Rick Gamboa and others are vying for two starting spots — but from the desire to lead the Buffs to a winning season.
Olugbode is one of nine CU defenders with at least 10 career starts (three others have at least eight). That experience should pay off as CU enters its second season under the direction of defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt.
"I can't wait," Olugbode said. "Especially being the second year in the system, it's really nice. Install goes really, really easy because we already know the defense."
As a leader and captain, Olugbode feels some responsibility to make sure this defense does improve. Nearly a week into fall camp, the Buffs are on the right track.
"I think it's going really well," Olugbode said. "As a defense we're coming together really well, especially because we have a really old group. A lot of us have been playing together since we were freshmen, so everything is seamless out there.
"We communicate really well and play really well together."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.