Skull Session: Jaylen Harris Emerging, Men's Hoops Way-Too-Early Ranking, and D'Angelo Russell's Playoff Appearance

By Kevin Harrish on April 8, 2019 at 4:59 am
It is the Monday Skull Session time.

While I'm getting properly crushed in our Eleven Warriors Tournament Challenge, I'm happy to announce that I will be taking home second in the bracket pool I am actually allowed to win, regardless of tonight's outcome.

That probably sounds a lot like bragging about a very real and definitely not fake beautiful girlfriend who lives in a different state and goes to another school, but rest assured – I have one of those as well.


Word of the Day: Incondite.

 JAYLEN HARRIS TIME. One of the best and worst things about college football is the roster turnover. On one hand, it's frustrating as hell to lose your best players every year right when they get good and likable. On the other, that just means you get to watch other players become good and likable in their place.

The next up seems to be Jaylen Harris, because based on how this roster is shaking out, there's no way he won't be playing meaningful time this season.

From Tony Gerdeman of The Ozone:

With Austin Mack’s move from X receiver to Z receiver, the depth chart for Harris is starting to unfold in his favor.

Harris and senior Binjimen Victor are now the top two players at the X for the Buckeyes, but it will still require consistency on Harris’ part to stay there.


Over his first two seasons, Harris was behind both Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor at the X position. With the Buckeyes losing their top two Z receivers to graduation in Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon, however, Hartline decided to move Mack to Z in order to get the Buckeyes’ top three receivers on the field together.

That decision probably wouldn’t have been made had Hartline not been confident that Harris is now ready for a larger role in the Ohio State offense.

“Yeah, it helps, definitely. I think that says a lot about it,” Hartline said. “If maybe I didn’t feel the No. 2 guy or the guy next up or in tempo, who am I subbing with, if I didn’t feel good about Jaylen Harris, it would be hard to make that move. But with Jaylen Harris and how he’s coming, that’s a great example of why I feel comfortable moving Austin.”

Yes, sign me up for more snaps given to the 6-5, 215 ball-catching fellow.

My favorite thing about this Ohio State receiving corps is the diversity in skillsets and body types. For a bit, it seemed the Buckeyes were recruiting essentially the same player at receiver – small, quick and agile – but they began to break that mold a few years ago, and we're starting to see the fruits now.

 HOW ABOUT NEXT YEAR? College basketball season officially wraps up tonight and Internet Law dictates that we must immediately set our eyes on next season.

As a loyal online citizen, it is my duty to share folks' early thoughts on next season's beloved Buckeye basketball boys.

Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News has Ohio State at No. 15 in his way-too-early 2018-19 rankings, before this season even ends.

15. Ohio State

2018-19 record and finish: 20-15, NCAA second round
Key players: SF/PF Andre Wesson, SG Duane Washington, SG Luther Muhammad, PF Kyle Young, SG Musa Jallow
Top-100 recruits: PG DJ Carton (247Sports No. 28), SF Alonzo Gaffney (247Sports No. 42), PF EJ Liddell (247Sports No. 45)
Key decisions: C Kaleb Wesson is not projected as a first-round pick but could choose to go through the pre-draft process. 

Hey, I'll take it. And that's before Ohio State adds at least one graduate transfer and possibly another freshman like Ibrahima Diallo.

And knowing that Chris Holtmann's Buckeye teams are typically criminally underrated, No. 15 in the country really equates to like No. 5.

How soon can you buy tickets to the Final Four?

 STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS? You'll be shocked to learn that Nick Saban – a college football coach whose personal success is entirely dependent on that of his teams – thinks that his best players should stay at Alabama as long as possible.

From Jason Owens of Yahoo! Sports:

After pointing to statistics that state around 25 percent of underclassmen don’t get drafted while another 25 percent of them are out of the league in three years, Saban went on a nearly four-minute rant warning of the ills of early defection.

“That means 50 percent of the guys that went out early for the draft had failed careers,” Saban said. “But if you look at the number of guys that were first- or second-round draft picks, there were very few guys that had failed careers."


Saban went on to complain about players without premium draft grades who decide to leave early.

"Now, we have guys that have no draft grades, seventh-round grades, free-agent grades, fifth-round grades that are going out of the draft,” Saban said. “And the person that loses in that is the player.

“If you're a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year — I'm not mentioning any names — goes and starts for his team, so he's making third-round money, which is not that great. He'd be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more.”

This is something Ohio State also deals with as well, and it's discussed around these parts a lot. Recently, I've seen fans question the decisions of guys like Jalin Marshall, Noah Brown and Tyvis Powell, suggesting they should have come back.

Honestly, Saban does have a point, and those fans also have a point, but it's not like this is an exact science every time. Every situation is different.

For one, it depends on the financial situation of the player. Maybe a guy just can't afford to wait another year, especially if it means risking injury. A fat paycheck now could be more beneficial than a slightly fatter one in the future – we've all been there. That's why loans and credit cards are a thing.

And then there's the assumption that every player's stock improves every year, which isn't always true. Sometimes, a player reaches his developmental peak, or plays above his talent level and needs to cash in.

Really, Saban is just all for the scenario he believes helps his team the most, and I'm positive that's where most fans' hearts are as well. This was confirmed when the comments under Damon Arnette's decision to return were uh... quite a bit different than those under Jalin Marshall and Noah Brown's draft declarations.

 D-LO TO THE PLAYOFFS. D'Angelo Russell emerged as a legitimate superstar this year, turning in one of the best single seasons from a former Buckeye in recent memory to help take the Nets to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

My fondest memory of D'Angelo Russell at Ohio State will forever be the one time he teleported a pass through at least three defenders right off of Jae'Sean Tate's chest and out of bounds. Thad looked absolutely irate, but D-Lo just shrugged, looked at him across the court and said "he was open."

Let's be real, he had no business ever being a part of this program at that time. But I'm damn glad he was. Imagine that season without him.

 DIRE SITUATION UP NORTH. If at any point this spring you find yourself concerned about Ohio State's roster situation – be it a lack of depth somewhere or mounting injuries – shift your gaze up north.

See, no matter how unideal things get in Columbus, at least the Bucks don't have a freshman former tight end as their No. 2 running back as they try to install a brand new offense.

From Aaron McMann of

Michigan’s situation at running back was less than ideal at the start of spring practice, and things haven’t gotten any better.

The Wolverines are currently practicing with just one returning scholarship player, Tru Wilson, who remains at the top of the depth chart as of early April.

Injuries have otherwise ravaged the group, which began the 15-practice spring without presumed starter Chris Evans, who Michigan is only saying at this point is no longer on the team.


With all of the injuries (four-star freshman Zach Charbonnet remains sidelined all of spring too after having an undisclosed procedure in January), freshman Ben VanSumeren -- a former tight end -- is now No. 2 on the depth chart.

Behind Wilson and VanSumeren? Sophomore Julian Garrett, a walk-on from Centreville, Va.

Combined, Michigan is currently only working with 364 yards and one touchdown worth of offense from a season ago, while trying to install a new spread-based scheme under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.

Well. Best of luck to y'all. We'll see you in November. 

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