Skull Session: Improved Linebacker Play, “Freakish Athlete” Parris Campbell, and Walk-On Twins

By D.J. Byrnes on June 30, 2018 at 4:59 am
Kendall Sheffield X's the June 30 2018 Skull Session

Two friends I've known since kindergarten tried to lure me to Put-in-Bay, the Ibiza of America, this weekend. "Are you crazy?" I said. "I have to provide #content to Buckeye Kingdom. The game never sleeps." 

Please remember the sacrifices I make for you jackals.


​Word of the Day: Fanmeile.

 LINEBACKERS SHOULD BE BETTER. Fans love to assume their preferred team will be better this year than last. Even if that team is coming off a championship.

This mentality trickles down to position levels. It makes sense when dealing with the secondary and defensive line. Ohio State has cracked the code.

Linebacker remains murkier. The local team has talent this year, but it had talent last year and the unit looked lost in the sauce during losses to Oklahoma and Iowa. Urban Meyer's best man remains the position coach.

2018's forecast boils down to how much stock you put in a late-season surge.


But the evidence is pretty clear based on what happened late in the year. It also seemed like Ohio State was able to do more things with the play calling to help at that point as well. Worley subtly acknowledged before the Cotton Bowl that a few familiar blitz packages had helped make a difference, and the Buckeyes plainly looked more aggressive.

And that’s good news for the program this year, even with the new starters needing to be nailed down in training camp and maybe the potential for some growing pains at times. Ohio State is loaded with the kind of athleticism and depth that it hasn’t really had in that unit since Urban Meyer arrived. Just to name a few guys, Malik Harrison, Keandre Jones, Justin Hilliard and Baron Browning all have the ability to be stars at the second level.

Of course, the Buckeyes will have to figure out the right way to deploy those resources.

Losing Tuf Borland to a torn Achilles was a blow. Even if he recovers before the regular season, which would be a Herculean feat, it's no sure thing he would return to form as Achilles tears are one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer.

Baron Browning, however, looms large both literally and figuratively. If he can command the middle and become a coach on the field, I'll be a big believer in the linebackers shortly thereafter.

 THERE GOES THAT MAN. Parris Campbell took issue with leaving him off its "Fastest College Football Players" article that crowned Kendall Sheffield as the nation's quickest.

Campbell will be pleased to learn ranks him the tenth most freakish athlete in CFB this year.

Even on a roster filled with top-notch talent, Campbell's physical measurables stand above. The Buckeyes receiver can vertical jump 40 inches and broad jump 11-3 -- both results would typically place him very high among all participants at the NFL combine. He possesses blazing speed on a sturdy 208-pound frame, and has been clocked at sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash, per Ohio State. Not surprisingly, he's one of the nation's most prolific kickoff returners with a career average north of 30 yards per return.

The Campbell Experience was showcased against Indiana, when he dropped a surefire first-half touchdown before responding with this:

Indiana has never been known as a factory of tenacious defenders. Campbell's speed still popped off the high definition screen.

Bubble-passes and short crossing routes inflate his catching percentage. If he proves to be a reliable receiver on medium and deep routes—look out. Opposing fans may not like us come December.

 TWINS MAKE PRELIMINARY CUT. Here's a sweet story about twins that left scholarships at Division II Lake Erie College to chase a dream of donning the Scarlet and Gray.


Because of their performance in a tryout on Jan. 17, Gage and Luke Bican - 2016 graduates of Mayfield - have been added to the Ohio State football roster as walk-ons. After transferring from Division II Lake Erie College, where they were on football scholarship, the Bicans are paying their own way at Ohio State and looking to fulfill a dream they’ve had since they were young.

They had missed the walk-on tryouts held prior to Ohio State’s 2017 season. But they quickly circled on their calendar the tryouts scheduled for Jan. 17 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

They trained religiously on their own. There was no contact whatsoever with the Ohio State staff that they were planning on trying out for the team.

“We would go and run on the fields outside the stadium for motivation,” Luke said. “We had the stadium right there as we were training on what they call the RPAC fields. That visual of the stadium was motivation for us.”

While the twins made the roster, their spot in the fall isn't yet guaranteed due to another wave of preferred walk-ons arriving. With the Buckeyes currently carrying 11 walk-on receivers, it's likely some of them won't be on the sidelines when Oregon State invades the Shoe.

 WHO THE HELL IS JOHN BOY? Some galaxy brain geniuses banded together and figured a restaurant based on nostalgia belonged near a college campus. It will be the latest in a long line of failed ventures in the old McFadden's building at the Gateway.


Good Night John Boy, a concept developed by Forward Hospitality Group, which also owns the Flipside at Easton, will take over one of the vacant restaurant locations at the Gateway. Ugly Tuna Saloona and Mad Mex left the campus area development this year.

Forward has one Good Night John Boy in the Cleveland area and describes the restaurant as “the embodiment of 70′s nostalgia, drawing inspiration from the decade’s pop culture to cultivate a groovy environment where patrons can dance, drink, and eat late into the night.”

I recently realized high schoolers view the 1990s the same way I did the 1970s at that age, and I instantly aged another 20 years.

That said, I am 31 years old and only know the "Good Night, John Boy" reference from a Geico commercial.

Yeah, I'd rather eat my shoe. Thanks.

 BRING BACK THE SHELL STATION. High Street will eventually be nothing but luxury apartments trying to attract residents by promising to stuff their faces with fast food and 1,200-calorie coffees:

Campus Partners threw away perfection, which happens to coincide when I used to walk that frosty street on a daily basis.

 THOSE WMDs. Video: Carnival scam science — and how to beat it... How to dispose of an icepack... Doctor, your patient is ready; it's a red panda... The Ohio Valley / Mid-Atlantic Derecho of June 2012... A botched robbery led to a legal landmark.

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