Skull Session: In Defense of National Signing Day, Demario McCall Builds Trust, and Larry Johnson Teaches Hand Fighting

By D.J. Byrnes on January 31, 2017 at 4:59 am
Ohio State enforcer Jerry Emig makes a call for the January 31st, 2017 Skull Session.

Word of the Day: Xanadu. Also, Happy Birthday to my mom, who turns 35 today.


 WELL, ACTUALLY. National Signing Day is tomorrow, and it will effectively end Ohio State's two-year pursuit of the Select '17. 

NSD will be 11W's busiest day of the offseason, barring a Cinderella run by the men's basketball team. Folks love NSD because every recruit the Buckeyes sign can still end up in the Football Hall of Fame.

But what if I told you... National Signing Day is bad, actually?

From Dennis Dodd of

"I don't like it," [Ohio State athletic director Gene] Smith said of what recruiting became long ago. That is, some sort of quasi-religion that you absolutely have to believe in.

No thanks. I still believe that walk-ons can become NFL Draft choices. I believe that a three-star prospect ( San Diego State Aztecs 's Donnel Pumphrey ) can become the NCAA career rushing leader. I believe the world can live without contrived high school all-star games where the sideline commitments are the entertainment.


"We've just done a total disservice to high schools and the other sports," Smith added. "We've created this sense of celebrity and entitlement at an early age.

"I feel sorry for what we've done. I really do ... A lot of times we have to deprogram to some degree. It's not just football, it's all sports. You've got to bring them back to reality."

Always enjoy watching college football writers shit on things millions of college football fans enjoy.

Back in the day, before I turned 30 and gained infinite worldly wisdom, I would have agreed with him. This job, however, opened my eyes.

I enjoy watching Urban Meyer and his staff travel the country in search of the next legend. I enjoy watching how they build classes, target positions of need, identify class leaders, etc. I also enjoy learning players' backstories. It allows me to identify bosses like Demario McCall before he even takes a handoff.

Could I do without Bleacher Report commitment videos? Sure, but as a man with student loan debt, I can appreciate a young man celebrating an escape from legalized loansharking.

So yeah, Dodd misses me with this rant. A three-star recruit doesn't die every time a blue chip commits via a sideline ceremony at an all-star game, and nobody is holding a pistol to his head making him watch, either.

 DEMARIO WANTS MORE. McCall finished 2016 with 49 touches for 270 yards and three touchdowns, along with four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. 

Those numbers are nice for a true freshman under Meyer, who redshirts more often than he admits.

Those numbers didn't satisfy McCall, though. He's looking to build the trust of coaches this offseason to earn a hench workload this fall.


"I just want to earn their trust first in order for them to put me on the field as much as I want to be on the field," he said. "So that’s what I’m working on right now."

While he received some playing time this past season, it mostly came when the games were no longer in doubt, and he was only sparingly permitted to run outside the tackles and show off his speed and quickness. Arriving at 175 pounds and finally getting up to 190 pounds for the bowl game was not exactly the best recipe for success given what they were asking McCall to do.

"To be honest, this season I expected way more," he said. "I feel like I had a good season, but I feel like it could have been better. But it is what it is. We have a lot of speed and talent. Strong guys, big guys. You’ve got to work for a spot, that’s why I’m going to grind to have a better season next year."

I feel like McCall's play in 2017 is going to leave me asking why he didn't play more in 2016—especially when he proves to be a weapon on punt returns. But I'll have to keep in mind McCall wasn't the same player he will be.

Still, I'm excited to see what he looks like after another offseason under the tutelage of Mickey Marotti.

 LARRY JOHNSON: THE BOSS. I thought nobody would ever embody "subdued swagger" like Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States of America.

I was wrong. Larry Johnson drips subdued swagger.

Here's the Ohio State defensive line coach instructing a hand fighting drill:

I'm using that move next time somebody accosts me in real life for my bad takes on the internet. Going to throw in a stiff backhand chop to the throat, too.

 NO FLORIDA FOR ROBINSON. Columbus Police cited four-star wide receiver James Robinson for possession of a pouch of Devil's Lettuce while on an official visit to Ohio State.

It's not a great look for a recruit but not the worst crime ever committed in college football. But Florida, seen as a landing spot for Robinson, pulled its offer Monday.

From (via @GoBucks2204):

According to Zach Abolverdi of SEC Country, a source said McElwain and his staff would continue to recruit Robinson after vetting his marijuana citation while on an official visit to Ohio State, as of Saturday.

However, on Monday, the UF administration stepped in and will not allow the staff to send a letter of interest, the same source told SEC Country.

Robinson is now pushing his back his announcement:

Best of luck to him. Turbulent times can either break you or make you. It's your choice.

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