Skull Session: Hoops Prodigy to Visit Ohio State, Marshon Lattimore a Top-Five NFL Corner, and Mike Vrabel Fiery in Tennessee

By Kevin Harrish on July 30, 2018 at 4:59 am
Terry McLaulin celebrates today's Skull Session.

The Scarlet & Gray were bounced from TBT on Sunday afternoon courtesy of Jimmer Fredette and a dude still rocking a man-bun in 2018, but at least we'll always have this:


Word of the Day: Recalcitrant.

 AKRON HOOPS PRODIGY LIKES THE BUCKEYES. It's about a decade too early to tell, but yet another consummate basketball player may have fallen into the lap of northeast Ohio.

Chris Livingston, 14-year old, 6-foot-5 forward from Akron, is already getting LeBron James comparisons and earning the attention of the king himself.

From Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports:

James’ appearance at an obscure 16-Under grassroots game in the Fab 48 Tournament in a half-empty gym held a powerful symbolic meaning. James came to watch the next great player with Akron ties, 14-year-old Chris Livingston, who is considered perhaps the top eighth-grade player in the country.

That’s a position James once held, and the former Akron basketball prodigy traveling to a far-flung gym to watch the next one doubled as Livingston’s christening on the grassroots scene as the next great player from Ohio. Livingston is a 6-foot-5 wing who is a pure shooter, natural scorer and has a frame and strength that belies his age.


Livingston scored 15 points in the victory for his grassroots team, We All Can Go, over the Colorado Chaos. He had a dunk and showed the athleticism and fluidity that have led both Akron and UAB to already offer scholarships. (Being just 14, Livingston said he has a few other scholarship offers but couldn’t remember them.) He said he planned to visit Ohio State in August, a place he said he liked a lot because they’re “my hometown team.”

Coaching circles were buzzing about Livingston long before LeBron dropped by his game on Saturday. “He’s viewed as the next guy since LeBron in Ohio to be in that category of, maybe, a transcendent player,” said a college head coach. “It’s hard, you want to be careful to stay away from Harold Minor and Michael Jordan comparisons. But he’s got that degree of that talent at the age. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better player in his class right now.”

I'm not ready to crown this teen the next god king of Ohio just yet, but when I hear things like "prodigy" and "transcendent player" followed closely by Ohio State is "my hometown team," it's hard not to get just a bit giddy.

Although, I think the most likely scenario is that the NBA adjusts its draft eligibility rules just before Livingston leaves high school and Ohio State misses out on second generational player simply because he fell just outside of the one-and-done window.

But until that rule change, the pipe dream is still alive. He can follow a class behind Bronny James and lead the Buckeyes to their second-straight NCAA Tournament title.

 LATTIMORE ISLAND. Think about this: at this point two years ago, Marshon Lattimore wasn't even sure he was going to be a starter at Ohio State. Now, he's a top-five corner in the National Football League.

From Pro Football Focus:

5. Marshon Lattimore

It’s fitting that Lattimore is grouped with White here, because the two of them are likely to be compared to one another for every subsequent season after their success as rookies. Like White, Lattimore didn’t miss a beat entering the NFL, and allowed a passer rating of just 45.3 on throws into his coverage, the third-lowest mark in the league. Coming off a season where he was our fourth-highest graded cornerback in the NFL at 90.5, there’s no reason to expect anything other than another big year for Lattimore in 2018.

Lattimore was unbelievable in his debut season. He routinely shut down opponents' top receivers, won both the AP and PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards, and intercepted a pass with his ass.

His counterpart at Ohio State, Gareon Conley, should be back this season after missing most of his debut year due to injury. Though the comeback seems to already have hit a slight roadblock.

 INTENSITY IN TENNESSEE. Mike Vrabel has made one thing crystal clear during his first offseason as a head coach – he and his staff are going to be fiery as hell.

From The Tennesseean:

Wide receiver Devin Ross was the fourth player out of the locker room Sunday. He walked onto the practice field as Vrabel ran past him. Vrabel turned to Ross as he passed by.

"Jog, don’t walk!” he said.

In his first training camp as an NFL was coach, Vrabel's intensity has yet to dip while on the practice field. Players are responding well to his hands-on approach. 

I'm always skeptical when an NFL coach – especially a new one – tries to bring intensity and get in the faces of professionals making millions, who've been in the league longer than said coach has been coaching.

In this case though, I have an odd feeling it's going to work. I mean, how could you respond negatively to Kerry Coombs?

 HARTLINE IS HERE TO HELP. Brian Hartline watched the same video I did, but he was less enthralled with the fervent 56-year-old and more aghast by the receiver's poor route running.

I love Hartline talking about route running, because that's what he knows.

No disrespect intended, he's not the most physically gifted or athletic receiver to grace the gridiron, but he had excellent fundamentals, was a great route runner, great blocker, and understood the game.

Let's check the old scouting report:

Positives: Good height and an athletic frame. Good initial quickness off the snap. Better football player than overall athlete. Does a lot of the little things well. Reliable route-runner. Lacks elite burst out of his snaps, but runs them with precision. Good body lean and utilizes head fakes and varying speeds to help generate separation. Good hands. Tough. Will take a big hit and hang on to the ball. Good downfield blocker. Stalks defenders at the second level and can supply a big hit. Experienced special teams player.

Negatives: Lacks the eye-popping athleticism to offer much upside. Doesn't have the straight-line speed to challenge over the top. Lacks burst out of his breaks. Generally reliable hands, but has some ugly drops when he's trying to make a move on the defender before securing the pass.

That scouting report does not scream "Seven-year NFL career," but he went ahead and found success anyway. That's why I think he'll be a solid receivers coach – if he can get himself into the league for seven seasons, there's really no limit what he can do to a roster full of the nation's top athletes.

He just needs to know this is the standard, and it's pretty high:

 BUCKEYE 'TIL DEATH, AND THEN SOME. There are die-hard Buckeye fans, and then there's this.

It takes a dedicated man to rep his beloved Buckeyes for eternity, and it takes a dedicated wife to agree to do it with him.

 THOSE WMDs. How a police officer-turned mob boss rigged McDonald's Monopoly game for 12 years... When a stranger decides to destroy your life... Why Japanese houses have such limited lifespans... What it's like to have LeBron James at your basketball tournament... Hard-to-see experimental device Luke Kuechly wears on field might save his brain...

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