Skull Session: Hardest Hole to Fill, Mike Thomas' Versatility, and Darron Lee's Draft Decision

By D.J. Byrnes on January 14, 2016 at 4:59a
January 14th Skull Session: Erick Smith and Parris Campbell

The men's basketball team dumped Rutgers last night, 94-68. The Buckeyes started slow and trailed Rutgers by 1 at halftime before Purple Thad Matta (assumedly) went nuclear in the locker room. The Bucks didn't look back.

The women's basketball team plays Northwestern in Evanston at 8:00 ET on BTN.

 FILLING THE WASHINGTON–SCHUTT VOID. With the suspension of Adolphus Washington and the ejection of Joey Bosa, we got a preemptive look at 2016's defensive line. It passed its first test, but questions about the interior remain.

Bosa was the best player, but with Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, etc.,  Ohio State is in position to absorb that pass rushing loss.

On the interior, however, it's a different story.


The senior trio combined for 86 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks while the rest of the Buckeyes’ defensive tackles to see the field – Michael Hill, Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle – totaled just 16 tackles and half a tackle for loss. Munger, who could start at 3-technique next season, didn’t find his name on the Buckeyes’ final season statistics at all.

With three veterans out the door, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said the interior defensive line is one of the most difficult spots to replace, especially when relying on younger players.


"[Defensive tackle] is the most difficult spot. It is kind of like an offensive lineman, those guys are talented enough, smart enough, they understand what they are doing, but the true physicality of the game and taking that next step is the most difficult thing," [said Luke Fickell.]

Hill, Munger, and Sprinkle will be entering their junior years. Hopefully another offseason in Marotti's dojo will elevate their bodies to the level needed. The only time Urban Meyer mentioned those three during his weekly call-in show was as guys that "need to get going."

The article mentions redshirt freshman Robert Landers as a guy who earned massive praise from teammates.

Another name to watch: Redshirt freshman Dre'Mont Jones. A defensive end in high school, he's expected to move inside à la Adolphus Washington. Coaches were crestfallen when he got injured last winter.

 SILKY MIKE THOMAS. Sure, Mike Thomas will never be confused with Ted Ginn Jr. on the track, but if Ted Ginn Jr. had Mike Thomas' route-running skills he'd already have a bust in the College and NFL Hall of Fames.

Yeah, he'll be playing in the NFL for a long time.

 A MOM DEAL'S WITH HER SON GOING PRO. Darron Lee is currently training for the NFL draft, but his mother, NBC4's Candice Lee, typed a heartfelt column on getting her budding son out of college and into NFL preparation.

From (via ZMBucks):

The night before Darron left to train of the NFL Combine, we had dinner at Cooper’s Hawk. It was a great night to dine there. The crowd was small so service was fast. We shared calamari and both had steaks. I looked over at him, secretly longing for the days when he wore his hair shorter. I knew I would miss seeing that face a few times a week. To me, he is still that tiny little baby hooked up to a heart monitor. I remember his tiny head full of hair, his little hands and feet. He was small and helpless. He needed me and I needed him.  Now, he stands six-foot-two, and weighs close to two hundred-forty pounds.  And I sat there wondering if we still would need each other. He intended to pay, but I wouldn’t let him.

The ride to Port Columbus on Wednesday was uneventful. The weather was perfect for driving, even better for flying. He let me pack his suitcase. Of course, it was heavier than allowed. But he was flying first class so they waived the fees. We quickly made our way to the Concourse B TSA checkpoint. I felt the tears coming, but held them back. I just flat out refused to melt into a blubbering idiot. I didn’t see my mother the day I left for the U.S. Navy. But I did speak to hear on the phone the night before I flew to Orlando. She cried like a baby. And in some way, I felt bad for leaving home. I didn’t want my son to feel that, so I sucked it up. I gave that goodbye four to six seconds of relentless effort. Good thing I couldn’t go to the gate because I’m sure I would’ve fallen apart as he walked down the jet way.

I waited for him to clear security. I watched as that white skull cap weaved in and out. I watched him gather his bags and belongings. He turned and waived. I waived in return. And just like that, he was gone.

Printed this column to save to read before I send my mediocre son off to prepare for the NFL draft. He'll make a great practice squad QB.

 BIG WEEK FOR EDDIE GEORGE. Eddie made his Broadway debut on Tuesday night as Billy Flynn in Chicago. He also stopped by the Funny or Die studios for a promotion that went comically awry:

That's not all! Eddie also dabbles as a restauranteur. Eddie George's Overpriced & Mediocre Grill, his flagship and a Campus Gateway anchor, is pulling up stakes and moving into the old building occupied by the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill.


Grandview Yard is swapping the Buckeye Hall of Fame for a Buckeye Hall of Famer.

Eddie George’s Grille 27 will relocate from South Campus Gateway to the Nationwide Realty Investors property, the developer announced Wednesday.

It will replace the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill at 775 Yard St., which will close at 10 p.m. Saturday.

This is why I assume any business in the Gateway is laundering money. (Good thing they're planning on expanding it?)

 ATHLETES WANT TIME AWAY FROM SPORTS. NCAA "bylaws" dictate only 20 hours of football practice per week, which is more of a suggestion given how it's enforced. (Urban Meyer says if players only spend 20 hours a week on football they're not very good.)

And while the public's demand for football is insatiable, football (and basketball!) players want more time off from their trades.


Many big-time college football and basketball players want two days off a week — twice what they are entitled to now — and athletes across the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s top competitive level would like a two-week break at the end of their traditional playing season.

Those are among the findings from a survey of nearly 30,000 Division I athletes conducted last year by the association’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.The Chronicle spoke to several athletics leaders who were briefed on the results, which are to be released at this week’s NCAA convention.

NCAA rules limit teams to 20 hours a week of organized practice and competition. But many players, coaches, and compliance officials agree that those limits are regularly exceeded. Previous studies have shown that elite athletes spend more than 40 hours a week on their sports.

Makes sense. I know football players have a support system not enjoyed by most students, but I couldn't juggle school and a part-time job at Tommy's. I remain mystified how guys like Jacoby Boren play football and maintain All-American academics.

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