Skull Session: Michael Thomas Wants to Be the Best, a Look Inside the Transfer Portal, and Dwayne Haskins Continued Climb to the Top

By Kevin Harrish on January 12, 2019 at 4:59 am
Damon Arnette is back in today's Skull Session.

The bad news is, there is no Buckeye football today or for quite a while. The good news is, a whole slew of former Buckeyes are still in the NFL Playoffs, including the Saints, which may as well be Ohio State's NFL affiliate.


Word of the Day: Griffonage.

 POSSESSED WITH BEING THE BEST. Michael Thomas' entire athletic life revolves around proving he's the best. Whether it was in high school, at Fork Union Military Academy, Ohio State, or now the NFL, if there was someone to be compared to, Thomas wanted to be the best.

According to Cardale Jones, that includes Devin Smith.

From Cardale Jones, via Jim Trotter of

One of his big [goals] was that he wanted to play as a freshman. At the time, Devin Smith was "the guy" at Ohio State, as far as receivers, and rightfully so. Mike and I went to the Wisconsin game one Saturday (in 2011, when both were still at Fork Union), and Devin caught the winning touchdown from Braxton Miller as a freshman. You could just tell Mike wanted that. He wanted to be the go-to guy. He wanted to be the guy you could look to for the big play in critical situations. 

He used to try to get the best out of me by saying little stuff and inferring that Braxton was always going to be "the guy" at quarterback at Ohio State, that I would never play there. He didn't say it in a way to try to hurt my feelings; he would say it to motivate me when he felt I wasn't working as hard or I was slacking off. 

I did the same thing to him. I said things like, "Devin had two touchdowns today. They call him Mr. Deep Threat. You know Ohio State is only known for fast receivers." 

Mike has great speed, but he's not a burner. He's not a guy you think of that's going to take the top off the defense. I just wanted to get under his skin because he was always getting under mine by mentioning Braxton. You (could) tell it motivated him and pushed him that much harder. 

Trotter talked to Thomas' father, high school quarterback, college strength coach (shoutout to Mick Marotti), and Sean Payton to get an accurate profile on the receiving phenom. And one thing is consistent – Thomas doesn't stop or slow down until he's the absolute best.

The crazy thing is, he's nearing the point where there's nobody to compete with but himself.

 LOOKING INSIDE THE PORTAL. Before a couple of days ago, I'm nearly positive most of you had never heard of the NCAA Transfer Portal. Now, it's dominating the college football news cycle.

The whole thing is relatively new and mysterious, as few outside of the coaching realms have ever seen it. But one of those who have is Bruce Feldman of the Athletic, who got a guided tour through the portal.

From Bruce Feldman of The Athletic ($):

Our guide begins by admitting he doesn’t go into the Portal on his computer as often as most of his colleagues do. Truth be told, the thing can be kinda maddening, he says. “You don’t get alerts when new players enter,” he says, “although you can sort it by conference, team or by the date they’ve entered into it.”

The biggest challenge with The Portal is sifting through it.

“Lots of these guys are walk-ons who never played,” says our guide. “You have FCS guys mixed in. You don’t know if he’s an All-American or he’s graduated and just put his name on here. There’s no filter. You don’t know even know if they’re academically eligible. It’s interesting.”


Our guide says when it comes to a high-profile potential transfer — such as Alabama’s Jalen Hurts — coaches will be on the lookout for his name, ready to spring into action. Usually, though, there’s some recruiting staffer who pulls the list daily and then has another staffer tasked with going through it all to find out more about the names.

Before it gets out, I would like to announce that I, too am in the transfer portal and am ready to provide my quarterback services to any team willing to accept a noodle-armed blogger as its signal caller.

 SIMBA STILL WAITING TO BE KING. It didn't take Dwayne Haskins long to climb to the top of the college football world, but he wants everyone to know he ain't done climbing and he ain't stopping with college football.

With how quickly he dominated college football, I'm not doubting his chances at the next level. Dude is GOAT material.

 MICHIGAN STILL SUCKS IN STRASBOURG. In case y'all were wondering, Michigan still sucks halfway across the globe.

I never know what's more impressive, the wide reaching love for Buckeye football or the worldwide distain for Michigan.

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