Skull Session: Shawn Springs Spotted the Dwayne Train, J.T. Barrett Impresses Saints, and Nick Saban Will Never Retire

By D.J. Byrnes on May 14, 2018 at 4:59 am
The G.O.A.T. catches the May 14 2018 Skull Session

My official statement after Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals:

Word of the Day: Quintessential.

 THE FIRST TRAIN SPOTTER. Dwayne Haskins entered The Game last year with his team trailing. He left the Big House with a victory. The icy skills that allowed him to do that didn't happen overnight. They were the culmination of years of training.

As it turns out, former Ohio State cornerback Shawn Springs may have been the first member of Buckeye Kingdom to look at Haskins and say, "That boy good."


Shawn Springs attended a seventh-grade passing camp in Hillsborough, New Jersey, about seven years ago for his son, Skyler, when he noticed a pudgy kid slinging the ball.

“I was like, ‘This kid can throw it a mile,’ ” said Springs, the former star Ohio State cornerback who had a stellar 13-year NFL career. “This guy is throwing the hell out of the ball. Holy smoke, who is this kid?”


Springs approached Haskins’ father at the camp and gushed about his son’s ability. Dwayne Jr. and Skyler already were friends. Springs became Dwayne’s football mentor. He had seen what others would. Haskins had a special gift.


“I told somebody the other day, I’ve probably only played with two quarterbacks in the NFL who I could honestly say are better than Dwayne right now,” Springs said. “One is Tom Brady and the other is Warren Moon. But Dwayne has that type of potential. It’s not going be shocking if he wins the Heisman this year or becomes the No. 1 overall (NFL draft) pick.”

Some fans think my booming of Haskins last year was anti-J.T. Barrett propaganda or that I'll immediately join the Martell Cartel after the first errant Haskins pass this season.

That's not true. Haskins is a rare talent. I tab him to be a first-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. If you disagree, be sure to remind me of this opinion in January when May will feel as if it were a decade ago. 

 JTB IN THE TRENCHES. J.T. Barrett did not get drafted. Worse, a team didn't sign him immediately after the draft. Barrett eventually chose a training camp offer from the Saints over the Colts.

He couldn't have landed in a better place. Not saying Drew Brees should watch his back. Rather, if Barrett were ever going to succeed in the NFL it would be a place like NOLA we lifelong residents call it.

Barrett didn't need long to work his mysticism.

But that is only one reporter's opinion! Barrett impressed the head coach, too:

Peyton also raved about Michael Thomas in rookie minicamp. And yes, it's unlikely Barrett stars this fall. But Barrett making a roster is no longer as unlikely as it used to seem. This is something to watch going forward.

 HOLMES HITS THE LOTTERY. The NFL draft is a crapshoot for players. Maybe you'll end up with the New England Patriots. Maybe you'll end up with the team that won one game in two years. Who's to say?

For Jalyn Holmes, landing with the Vikings was a blessing (aside from the weather).


Before the draft, Holmes and his representatives put together a list of NFL teams divided into three categories based on desirability. The Vikings were on the A list. They have a respected coach in Zimmer and line coach in Andre Patterson. They reached the NFC title game last season. He’ll be reunited with a former OSU teammate, center Pat Elflein.

“Obviously, I can’t learn from him football-wise because we’re different positions,” Holmes said, “but he’s a guy you can look up to off the field.”

As for the weather, well, you can’t have everything. Holmes was a little-used freshman when Ohio State played the Minnesota Golden Gophers in November 2014 in 15-degree weather and snow.

“That was one game I didn’t want to travel to,” Holmes said with a laugh. “I did not want to be on the traveling squad for that game.”

Vikings got a good one. I continue to maintain Holmes was one of the most underrated prospects of the draft. With a $3.1 million rookie contract in the bank, all that's left for him to do is go prove me right against every other franchise than the Browns.

 WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE. Nick Saban will turn 67 in October. According to ESPN college football writer Chris Low, Saban may die on the sidelines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.


“Nick took it a step further with me saying, ‘It’s something I couldn’t even imagine, me not coaching football,”’ Low said on The Paul Finebaum Show on Friday. “So I think the guy is going to coach well into his 70s.”

Saban is a spry 66 years old as he prepares for his 12th season in charge in Tuscaloosa and, with another six or seven years as successful as the last 11, he would possibly come close to a record that Low never thought would even get close to being touched.

“I used to always think that the most unbreakable record in the realm of SEC football was Paul Bear Bryant’s 159 SEC wins. I don’t think it is completely out of the realm of possibility that Nick would coach long enough where he’d have a shot to make a run at that.” 

Hard to argue with Saban's thinking. His #brand has never been stronger and he's still plucking staffers seemingly at will. As first-year Nebraska coach Scott Frost found out.


Nebraska first-year football coach Scott Frost suddenly has a key vacancy on his recruiting staff.

A team spokesman confirmed that Friday was Husker director of recruiting operations Bob Welton's final day on the job.

According to, Nick Saban has hired Welton as player personnel director. Welton reportedly will begin work with the Crimson Tide next week.

It's not all good news for the Prince of Darkness. Saban is blocking a backup center from transferring to Auburn or Tennessee.

From our nation's paper of record,

Alabama is again blocking a player from joining another SEC school as a graduate transfer.

Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy is interested in transferring to Auburn or Tennessee but isn't even currently allowed to have contact with those schools, any other school in the SEC or any of the Crimson Tide's future non-conference opponents, sources told

Kennedy, who ended the spring as Alabama's backup center, is in the process of appealing.

I would understand if this were a graduate transfer quarterback. Nobody wants a former pupil to stroll into his old stomping grounds and wreck a potential national title. A backup center, though? That's as cold blooded as replacing your season-long starting quarterback with a freshman at halftime of the national championship.

Regardless, it appears Urban Meyer will have to reckon with the Dark Prince if he wants another title.

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