Skull Session: Ohio State Versus TCU Recruiting, Michael Thomas a Rising Star and Nick Vannett Tabbed As Next Jimmy Graham

By Kevin Harrish on August 17, 2018 at 4:59 am
Major Key

Ohio State Athletics


Every year around this time, I remember this video and it brings me all of the good feelings.

Autumn's (almost) here.


Word of the Day: Dour.

 RECRUITING RANKINGS WAR IN JERRY WORLD. Yesterday, our Andrew Lind published an article explaining how Ohio State's current roster, which features 10 former five-star recruits, is the most talented Buckeye team since Meyer's arrival, at least on paper.

The same exact day, TCU fan blog Frogs O' War wrote a piece explaining recruiting rankings aren't everything and don't necessarily indicate that Ohio State will win the game in September (which is kind of true. Ohio State will win because it has a significantly better team, which is correlated with, but not necessarily caused by an influx of four and five-star players).


A size mismatch? 100 percent. A gap in experienced players? Sure. The pressure getting to the Horned Frogs as they attempt to knock off the program that once called them the “little sisters of the poor”? Also valid.

A gap in recruiting rankings? Let’s tap the brakes for a second.

We won’t deny that Ohio State does consistently finish in elite territory when it comes to recruiting. The Buckeyes have fielded a top 10 recruiting class every year dating back to 2011, including a 2018 recruiting class that finished No. 2 behind Georgia.

It’s a different story for the Horned Frogs, who have made leaps and bounds in the national recruiting scene in recent years, but are often seen in the ballpark of 20-30 rather than the top 10. For some Ohio State fans, that gap is enough that there’s apparently no point of even playing the contest other than to say “we told you so.”


In what is perhaps one of the more memorable quotes to come out of the event, TCU head coach Gary Patterson had this to say about star ratings when asked about the matter at Big 12 Media Days in July:

“Number one, that rating is your rating. That’s not my rating. If I’m bringing them in I think they’re a pretty good player so they may be a four star or five star, obviously we’re getting more of those guys. I have always believed that the it’s not where you start, but where you finish. So you recruit whoever you want to recruit, you recruit who fits your program.”

Ah yes. The old "we recruit who fits our program" line that's become so popular with our friends to the north.

Look, TCU is a good football team with talented players – they're a top-20 squad in the preseason rankings for a reason. But the Horned Frogs would trade starters with Ohio State at just about every single position on the field if given the chance.

I'm not saying this is an automatic win for the Buckeyes, because TCU is a good team with a great head coach who excels at getting his players to seemingly play above their potential. What I am saying is that Ohio State, on paper, is a drastically more talented team, and I don't think it's even debatable.

But I guess we'll know for sure in September.

 MICHAEL THOMAS: RISING STAR. At this point, we all know you can't guard Mike.

Michael Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, watching five other receivers get selected ahead of him.

Thomas quickly made a fool of all the teams to pass on him, posting the best rookie season of any receiver since Randy Moss and caught more passes in his first two seasons than any receiver in history.

Bleacher Report called Thomas the league's biggest rising star at the receiver position:

Michael Thomas, former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson's nephew, isn't as outspoken as his uncle. However, the third-year wideout's production speaks for itself. He's put together consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start his professional career and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017. 

It helps to catch passes from quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 70 percent of his throws in each of the last two seasons, but it takes a special talent to lead a team in touchdown receptions (third in the NFL) two years into his career. The Saints felt comfortable dealing Cooks to the New England Patriots last offseason, which allowed Thomas to emerge as the clear-cut No. 1 option at wide receiver.

I'm not really buying the whole "not as outspoken as his uncle" line, because I watched him at Ohio State, but that's spot on analysis otherwise. Thomas is a monster, and he's quickly taking over the NFL.

 SNOOK SAYS MORE. Yesterday, I highlighted college football author and reporter Jeff Snook's appearance on  Mike Bianchi's radio program, Open Mic, where Snook essentially doubled down on everything in his report claiming Tom Herman tipped off Brett McMurphy in an effort to get Zach Smith fired.

Snook released a column on his Facebook page (we're living in wild times) on Thursday, where he essentially reiterated a lot of what he said on the radio appearance – he knows his story is true, he has more proof that it's true and repeatedly requests that Tom Herman walk back his denial.

He did provide a bit of new information, however.

From Snook's Facebook page:

Still, Michelle Herman told me this Tuesday about Courtney Smith via Messenger:

“She never told me she was being abused. She never told anyone she was being abused. Nobody saw any abuse.”

That, in essence, covered her husband’s responsibility toward his Title IX responsibilities while at Ohio State.
>>>“When she needed to borrow money, she was drowning in debt and going to drop out of school. I said ‘that’s a bad idea. Then what will you do?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you let me loan you the money? I mean, it’s not going to hurt us.’ We loan people money all the time. Sometimes, we just give it to them.”

Every twist this story takes makes me feel like I'm in the crowd of a daytime tabloid talkshow. But allegedly, this will all be over soon.

 THE NEW JIMMY GRAHAM. It seems like just yesterday Nick Vannett signed with the Seahawks and I began to speculate how much playing time he would actually receive with some stellar tight ends already on the roster.

Life happens pretty fast. After Luke Willson and Jimmy Graham departed during free agency this offseason, Vannett is now the only tight end on the roster who's ever even appeared in a game with Seattle. He's the veteran, and with free agent signee Ed Dickson dealing with injuries, he's the top player.


Graham’s Seattle tenure will always carry a mixed legacy. But he also had 10 touchdowns last season and broke just about every team single-season and career receiving record for tight ends. Willson, meanwhile, was a more-than-capable number two tight end with a knack for the big play and a rep as a solid blocker.

Dickson, 31, signed as a free agent after eight years with the Ravens and Panthers (he had 30 catches last year for Carolina and a career-high 54 with Baltimore in 2011) to step in as the starter. But Dickson has yet to take the field in camp, remaining on the non-football injury list with a quad injury suffered during summer conditioning.

That leaves the number one tight end role for now to Vannett, a third-round pick out of Ohio State in 2016.


“Really good camp,’’ Schottenheimer said, referring to Vannett. “You saw he had the big third-down conversion, which put us into the situation for fourth-and-one. Had a really good block on the fourth-and-one play, and of course, the scramble play that he made was terrific. The guy kind of had him boxed out. He came back up underneath him. So I think Nick is playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

The article also details an intricate system of fines the tight ends adhere by, of which Vannett is the overseer.

I'm not going to pretend to know much about that locker room dynamic, but if a player has the power to impose literal monetary fines to fellow professional athletes, I'd say he's a pretty core play.

 MAJOR KEY. Not only did the Buckeyes get to attend the Beyonce' and Jay Z concert last night, the team also got to hang out with DJ Khaled, who opened for the power couple in the horseshoe.

I went on DJ Khaled's instagram story, hoping to find photographs of him and some Buckeyes. Instead, I saw Buck-I-Guy in the front row at the concert, dressed in his full costume.

At least he's consistent.

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