Skull Session: Brian Hartline's Recruiting Prowess, Ohio State is the No. 3 Team of the Decade, and Kaleb Wesson's Importance

By Kevin Harrish on May 31, 2019 at 4:59 am
The flags say O-H-I-O in today's Skull Session.

There are few feelings in the world that match the butterflies in your chest when a listener response makes it into some #content created by your heroes, and folks, I'm happy a Kevin today.

Tune in to the latest edition of Tony Gerdeman and Tom Orr's Buckeye Weekly at the 67:20 mark to hear them discuss the world's greatest chain restaurant at my recommendation.

Gerd opens with a terrible #take about Arby's roast beef sandwiches, but then things improve quickly. 

Also, listen to the rest of the podcast where they talk about things that aren't delicious meat sandwiches.


Word of the Day: Irenic.

 HAPPY JULIAN FLEMING DAY. The Buckeyes are (probably) about to get a big #BOOM today with the addition of the top receiver in the 2020 class, Julian Fleming, and it has a lot, if not almost everything to do with Brian Hartline. Just don't you dare tell him that.

From Doug Lesmerises of

Hartline can’t speak about specific recruits and he’s loathe to speak about recruiting strategies because he doesn’t agree with the idea that he uses any. In his mind, he’s the same Brian Hartline at the gas station as he is when he’s talking to recruits and their families. If you ask him how he’s done it, how he’s quickly succeeded in securing top players since taking over for Zack Smith on an interim basis last August and earning the full-time job in December, the question holds no water for him.

Done it? Done what? Be Brian Hartline?

“The big thing that rubs me the wrong way is being labeled as a good recruiter,” Hartline said. “I don’t even know what that means. To me, these guys aren’t like cars, they aren’t things you own, they aren’t objects.”

Everything Hartline said is hilariously true, but the fact is his job security hinges on convincing high school kids to play football at Ohio State instead of another school. And however he does it, whatever he wants to call it, he's been damn good at it.

He's been on the job less than a year and in that span he's maintained a commitment from the nation's top receiver in the 2019 class, signed another top-100 player in Jameson Williams, and landed commitments from a pair of four-star receivers in the 2020 class:  Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

And from how Fleming's high school coach talks about the five-star receiver – the highest-rated commit out of high school since Terrelle Pryor – he might be the best one yet, should he decide to be a Buckeye.

“The last two years, teams have really gone out of their way to try to defend him,” Roth said. “There’s almost always two guys dedicated to him.”

Roth said Fleming still caught more than 80 passes for more than 1,500 yards last season. 

“He’s just that good,” Roth said. “He’s above and beyond, especially at the skill position, than what we’ve ever had in the program. He’s a once-in-a-career player, even for a long-tenured coach like myself.”

Fleming and Garrett Wilson opposite each other under Hartline's tutelage sounds borderline unfair, but you know my entitled-ass Buckeye self still probably won't be satisfied unless Fleming can convince a five-star running back or two to join him in Columbus.

 BEST OF THE DECADE. It's not easy to sustain a decade of success over multiple head coaches, but Ohio State's done it. And because of that success, Bill Bender of Sporting News has the Buckeyes as the No. 3 team of the past decade, behind only Clemson and Alabama.

#3 Ohio State

Points: 78.5

Why they're here: There is a gap between Alabama, Clemson and everybody else, but the Buckeyes remain the most consistent program behind the Tide and Tigers. Urban Meyer elevated the program with a national championship run in 2014, and they have the second-best winning percentage and fourth-most NFL Draft picks. Ryan Day now has the keys of a national championship contender.

Even without a strict rationale or scoring system, that makes sense. Alabama is the clear No. 1, and Clemson is the only other program with multiple national titles in that span. But there was a system at work here:

National championships: 10 points each 
National title game appearances: 5 points each 
College Football Playoff appearances: 5 points each 
New Year's Day Six/BCS bowl appearances: 3 points each 
Heisman Trophy winners: 2 points each

That's not all: Overall winning percentage, All-Americans and NFL Draft picks first-round picks were awarded with a poll style 15-1 score. Ties were broken by the team with the higher ranking heading into this season:.

There were a few hilarious results. The formula had absolutely no idea what the hell to do with Auburn – the model of inconsistency – and seems to have drastically overrated Stanford. But it absolutely nailed Michigan's position as a fringe top-20 program.

 WINNERS OF THE DEADLINE. I'm not sure how seriously Kaleb Wesson considered actually making the jump to professional basketball this offseason, but I didn't allow my brain to see that as a potential reality even once.

That's probably because Ohio State would have gone from potential Big Ten title contender to completely boned if he actually left. But, he didn't. And that's a huge for the Buckeyes, who John Marshall of the Associated Press has as one of the biggest winners of the NBA Draft declaration deadline.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes were going to have most of their rotation back for Chris Holtmann’s second season in Columbus. Kaleb Wesson’s decision to return could make Ohio State a top-10 team next season.

I'm a noted fan of athletic 7-footers, but there's just no way to sell me on a team with one true big that's only been playing basketball for less than six years. Wesson returning was so huge I couldn't even really fathom a reality without it happening.

 MIAMI BUCKEYES. Everyone knows about the Buckeye collection the Saints have going on down in New Orleans, but it looks like Miami's giving that Ohio State pipeline a try as well.

After the Dolphins signed Adolphus Washington this week, they now have four Buckeyes on the roster.

From Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald:

Grier passed on Haskins, even though the first-round quarterback was available when the Dolphins picked at 13.

But he saw enough out of offensive tackle Isaiah Prince during last fall’s big game — and then later at Ohio State’s pro day — to take him in the sixth round of April’s draft. That marked the third consecutive year Grier drafted a Buckeye, following linebacker Raekwon McMillan in 2017 and linebacker Jerome Baker in 2018.

So who’s the fourth Miami Buckeye?

The Dolphins’ newest player, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, who signed with the team just last week.

“It’s always good reuniting with your old teammates,” Washington said this week. “They’ve been helping me out a lot since I’ve been here, letting me know where to go, what time to be at meetings, being on time is late and all that stuff. Kind of like it was at Ohio State, so I’m kind of used to it.”

I'm not sure this is all-the-way the same thing as what's going on in New Orleans, because Washington and Prince are both going to have to fight to make the roster this preseason. Still, you have to appreciate the sentiment, and it's not like I'm betting against either of them.

 SHEF SPEED. Buckeye speed has been the talk of the month thanks to our good pal Ted Ginn Jr., but I feel like Kendall Sheffield – who could very well be the fastest Buckeye of them all – has kind of gotten the shaft in those conversations just because he doesn't have an official 40-yard dash time.

But at least the Falcons know how fast he is, and that's all that really matters.

Sheffield had what might be the quietest career of a two-year starter and NFL Draft pick in Ohio State history (also literally, because he didn't meet with the media once during a regular-season media availability). But with his athleticism, I would not be shocked at all if he had a long NFL career.

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