Skull Session: Ohio State's Dominating Defensive Line, Dwayne Haskins' Tight End Days, and Tuf Borland's Name Change

By Kevin Harrish on September 7, 2018 at 4:59 am
Chase Young dominates his way into today's skull session.

Last night's NFL game was about as atrocious as it could have been for all but the last five minutes, BUT AT LEAST WE HAVE THIS:


Word of the Day: Ensorcell.

 UNBLOCKABLE. If you thought Ohio State's defensive line was living in the backfield on Saturday, you would be right.

Following the 77-31 decimation of Oregon State, Dre'Mont Jones and Nick Bosa received the top grades in the nation at their respective positions, according to PFF. Playing just under half a game, each had two sacks and Bosa had a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Chase Young made his debut start and finished second in the nation in quarterback pressures from the edge position.

This defensive line is going to be a problem.

 POP WARNER DWAYNE TRAIN. Dwayne Haskins announced his arrival to the college football world like the Kool-Aid man busting through a wall on Saturday, slinging five touchdowns and 313 passing yards and vaulting himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

He looks like a natural-born gun slinger, but according to childhood friend Mohamed Jabbie, a current Rutgers receiver who will face off against Haskins on Saturday, Haskins wasn't always on the giving end of the passes, but the receiving.

That is, until they found out about the cannon he was concealing.


"He wasn't always a quarterback," Jabbie said. "He used to be a little tight end when we were younger, and then he moved to quarterback. We saw how well he could throw, so we changed our whole offense around him. We were like 8-, 9-, 10-years-old, running a spread offense, because he could sling it."

Haskins was a pretty effective tight end, too.

"He was in our little guys camp, and so were my twins," former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, now the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator and associate head coach, said earlier this week in Columbus. "I remember them coming down to my office, he was playing wide-out in the pick-up, 7-on-7 games, and they said there is one kid up there we can't cover. Nobody can cover him."

Yeah, someone is going to have to find me some video of a young Haskins Gronking kids in 7-on-7. That's going to be a must watch.

 HANDFIGHTING JARRED BORLAND. Tuf Borland is a relentless monster on the football field, and a lot of that has to do with his ability to use his hands – a skill he's been honing since eighth grade.

Borland has been training with four-time blackbelt and 30-year professional martial artist John Greenidge since eighth grade to improve his athletic performance, and I'd say the results speak for themselves.

From Bill Landis of

"The hand fighting we do is how to fight in a closet, or in a phone booth," Greenidge said. "What we taught is that for somebody to be able to control you, they have to reach out and touch you. As soon as someone touches you, they are at a longer lever and I'm at a shorter lever. That means I'll have more power over them. Your body is basically a bunch of levers."

No, Borland is not also a secret black belt. He never took up martial arts outside of this work with Greenidge.

But you see some of the skill in how Borland plays. How, for an undersized middle linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, he's adept at using his hands to shed blocks from offensive linemen much larger than he is, and how he moves his body into the right gaps to plug up running lanes.

Landis also found the source of Tuf's unique – yet fitting – first name. His first name used to be Jarred and his middle name Tuf, with his parents always calling him the latter. But then the first name left.

But his grade school teachers refused to call him "Tuf" out of fear that it might incite other students to pick on, or worse, try to fight the tuf guy. Tuf decided he wasn't going to give them a choice, and around the time he was in fifth grade he persuaded his parents to legally drop the Jarred.

Tuf is a fantastic, extremely middle linebacker name. His fifth-grade self made the correct choice and I'm sure his current self thanks him for it.

 FOCAL POINT. It wasn't long ago Michael Thomas slipped to the second round of the NFL Draft with five other receivers taken above him.

Now, he's proven so good that an NFL team is designing entire plays just to get Thomas the ball.


Thomas has done a little bit of everything, including go routes, but he’s built his name on hitches (52 catches, 520 yards) and slants (31, 331). Thomas recently explained that he likes the physicality of both routes and believes his willingness to go there is why he succeeds.

Entering his third year, Thomas has become so proficient on those routes that New Orleans has entire plays built around his ability to run them. One of the more common plays New Orleans uses is out a formation where Thomas runs a slant from one side of the field while three other players line up on the other side and block.

Depending on the look, the play can change, but the goal is to get it to Thomas first.

“If he’s singled up, there is the throw,” quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi said. “If there is a flat defender underneath or the slant doesn’t look as premium, hopefully we have a concept on the other side that we’ll go to.”

Thomas has legitimately been one of the best, most consistent receivers in the league through his first two seasons, but he still seems to be flying curiously below the radar to average fans. Maybe this is finally the year 

Related, remember when Jourdan Lewis clapped at Thomas? "You're not a superstar. You're nothing."

That gets more and more hilarious by the day.

 THE MOST FOOTBALL FOOTBALL PLAYER. Some of you recruitniks might remember Ohio State's late push to land Porter Gustin in its 2015 class. Ultimately Gustin went to USC, but that's not going to stop me from appreciating the hell out of a guy who's basically a caricature of a football player.


He consumes more than 10,000 calories a day, blends most of his meals into greenish shakes and eats so many sweet potatoes that the soles of his feet and palms of his hands are an unnatural shade of orange. He has played a football game with a cast on each hand and two bloody screws protruding from a swollen big toe.

He is missing an upper tooth, dislodged during another game, has hair down to his shoulder blades and completes 300 pushups and 300 situps before bed each night. He drinks more than two gallons of water a day, hasn’t had a good piece of deep fried food since he was 14 and plays a position on the football field dubbed “Predator.”


To understand Gustin and that freakish body of his, you must understand his incredibly unique nutritional habits and workout regimen. “I’ll just give you today as an example,” he says. On this particular Friday in July, Gustin woke up at 4:10 a.m., chugged a Muscle Milk protein shake while lying in bed and then at 4:45 a.m. consumed his first of about a half-dozen blended meals. The other five are woven between a 5 a.m. stretching routine, conditioning drills at six, two weightlifting sessions, outdoor sled work that he watches later on video and a soft-tissue massage around 11. “His diet and the way he works out isn’t for most people,” fellow linebacker Cameron Smith says. “You don’t suddenly turn that on and then you’re Porter.”

Even he admits that his blended meals are gross. Their greenish-brown color makes his coach uneasy, and their stomach-churning aroma chases his father John from the room. Gustin’s most common blended meal includes chicken, sweet potato, brown rice, broccoli, spinach, a splash of water and a full bottle of Muscle Milk. He sometimes throws in salmon—that’s when the smell is strongest. “It just tastes awful,” he laughs. “The fish are the worst.”

Every bit of that is a nope parade for me – except for the soft tissue massage he receives every day – but I'm quite glad that I can appreciate him from afar. See, he seems like the type of person that I'm not sure I'd ever actually want to be around, but I want to exist because he sounds like a folk hero.

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