Skull Session: Ryan Day Recruiting a New Era, J.K. Dobbins' Rebound Season, and Urban Meyer's a Family Man

By Kevin Harrish on June 3, 2019 at 4:59 am
We're waving the flags in today's skull session.

It may be an offseason Monday, but fear not, the new heavyweight champion of the world proves we can do anything, even if we look drastically unprepared to do so.


Word of the Day: Valetudinarian.

 A NEW ERA. If you were off the grid on Friday, Ohio State landed a commitment from the nation's top receiver, Julian Fleming, who became the highest-rated high school player to commit to Ohio State since Terrelle Pryor.

Counting Justin Fields, Day has now sealed commitments from two of Ohio State's top four highest-rated prospects since recruiting rankings became a thing in *checks notes* five months.

That's nuts, but Day and co. were owning the recruiting trail even before he was the head coach, particularly at receiver and quarterback. With his recruiting, Day seems to be ushering in a new era of Buckeye football: one that airs it the hell out.

From Doug Lesmerises of

But now it’s not just one player at receiver. It’s several. Let’s look at the 2019 recruiting class combined with the 2020 group of verbal commitments and the positions of the nine top-100 recruits in those two groups.

  • Outside receivers: 4
  • Offensive guards/centers: 2
  • Offensive tackles: 1
  • Quarterbacks: 1
  • Defensive ends: 1

That’s a transformation, and I’ve been writing and podcasting about the need for the defensive recruiting to start matching the level of the offensive recruiting. Zach Harrison, a 2019 five-star defensive end, is the only defender among those nine.


When you think of five-star quarterback Justin Fields throwing to Wilson, Fleming, Olave and more in 2020, or you think of four-star quarterback Jack Miller, the No. 59 overall recruit and No. 2 quarterback in the Class of 2020, throwing to Wilson, Fleming, Scott and more in 2021, at least from the perspective of raw high school talent in the passing game, we’re entering a new world for Ohio State.

What you’ve seen with the run of defensive end talent from Joey Bosa to Sam Hubbard to Tyquan Lewis to Nick Bosa to Chase Young to Harrison, or what you’ve seen from the run of cornerback talent from Bradley Roby to Eli Apple to Marshon Lattimore to Gareon Conley to Denzel Ward to Jeffrey Okudah ... that’s what could be happening with the passing game.

Full-on agree.

It's extremely telling about the future of this team that in the short time he's been at Ohio State, Day has successfully recruited the highest-rated quarterback in program history and the two highest-rated receivers.

And you can be concerned about the recruiting on the defensive side of the ball, but Doug's leaving off 2021 defensive end Jack Sawyer (the No. 2 overall player in the country) and it's not like Larry Johnson disappeared, or like Al Washington has proven terrible at recruiting, or like Jeff Hafley hasn't impressed everyone he comes in contact with.

It's hilarious that some folks really thought recruiting was going to fizzle when Urban Meyer departed.

 SOPHOMORE SLUMP? J.K. Dobbins was a freshman phenom in 2017 and a Hesiman favorite ahead of the next season, but at times the Buckeyes couldn't buy a yard from the running back on the ground in 2018.

Call it a sophomore slump, but it really wasn't all his fault.

From Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network:

“I think that last year, we got the ball to the perimeter a little bit more in terms of some of the bubble screens and like that,” Day said. “We’ll continue to build that. The quarterback run is something that we’re going to be more involved with again this year. And then we’ll see as we continue to build this identity on offense — because it’s going to be different than it was with J.T. [Barrett]. It will be different than it was with Dwayne [Haskins] — how we continue to do that.”


Last year the Buckeyes had a prolific future first round passer in Dwayne Haskins at quarterback. Haskins was much more of a pocket passer than he was a runner. So with less designed runs and RPO-type schemes built in every week, the concept of "running the ball" or establishing plays that were quick hitters came from short passes rather than handoffs. Instead of using creativity in the run game, they were doing it more so with Parris Campbell or Terry McLaurin at the receiver position.

Ohio State will certainly have their fair share of plays like that, but I think the emphasis will take a shift, mainly because of who is now at quarterback. Former 5-star quarterback Justin Fields will likely be the starter for the Buckeyes in 2019, and with him comes a much more balance run and pass offense. Fields can scoot, so you better believe that there are going to be all sorts of new run play wrinkles in Ohio State's game plan each week. That will benefit Dobbins.

With not only more RPO's called, but a bigger threat to run from the quarterback position, those defensive ends and linebackers won't be able to key in on Dobbins in 2019 as much as they did in 2018. This should set up Dobbins to be one of the most productive backs in college football, and as a result, one of the more highly coveted backs in the 2020 NFL Draft pool.

It's almost like there's a tradeoff to throwing for 50 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards in a single season. It's tough to complain about the offense revolving around the best passer in program history, but if you're looking for the root of Dobbins' issues in 2018, that's it.

Justin Fields is the highest-rated player ever to sign with Ohio State for a reason, but he's still a first-year starter as a true sophomore in an offense that's totally new to him. He's also a very mobile quarterback, and despite Buckeye fans' audible displeasure, that generally does good things for a college running game in general.

Day loves to air it out, but he loves to win football games more. And there's a solid chance that's going to mean riding Dobbins this year.

 URBAN MEYER, FAMILY MAN. Urban Meyer's still adapting to life outside of coaching football, and it still ain't easy for someone who's done nothing else for about 30 years, but Meyer's already seeing some good in the tradeoffs.

From Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune:

Meyer acknowledged that his transition has not been easy from coaching to his new dual roles as assistant athletic director for Ohio State and co-host of a new Fox Sports pregame show with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn and Rob Stone.

“I miss the players,” he said. “I miss the greater good, which is team. But I have the greater good too. Family, grandchildren.”

He shows a picture on his phone of daughter Nicki’s children, Troy and Gray (full name: Urban Gray). The family lives across the seventh fairway from his home at Muirfield Village, the Jack Nicklaus-designed top-100 course that hosts the Memorial.

Younger daughter Gigi is living at home until she gets married in February. Nate is a freshman baseball player at Cincinnati, his dad’s alma mater.

At 10:40 a.m. on May 14, Meyer received a text that Nate would be starting in right field against Northern Kentucky. First pitch was 11 a.m. The ballpark was 115 miles away.

Meyer immediately jogged down 10 flights of stairs from his office at Ohio State. He gunned it and arrived in the fourth inning, eventually shouting, “Hey!” so Nate could see him.

“Big smile on his face,” Meyer said. “Worth it. That is eternal.”

Meyer also said his health is doing much better, and revealed that his headaches were so bad at times last year that he couldn't even talk to the team after the Penn State and Indiana games, saying they had him go to a quiet room until they “drugged me up” with Toradol, a strong painkiller.

Everyone's prognosticating about Meyer's coaching future like the only thing that matters is whether or not he'll miss coaching, but that's clearly not the only thing at play here. He might very well miss coaching, but he won't miss keeling over on the sideline with head pain or missing important life events of his children and grandchildren while he tries to convince an athletic teen to play for his school instead of a different one.

Maybe he will coach again, but "he's going to miss coaching" just isn't enough to sell me at this point. I mean, we all miss aspects of our life that we're also never going to make any effort to do ever again. Like that time I slept on concrete in the snow to make sure I got front row seats to watch an assy Ohio State basketball team play Northwestern.

 CHRIS EVANS OUT FOR THE YEAR. Since Jim Harbaugh's arrival, Michigan's offense has revolved around giving an absolutely reckless number of carries to the running back in I-formation.

Now they're uh, having problems finding a running back because they just lost their presumed starter for the season.

From Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News:

“Chris Evans is suspended for the year,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told The Detroit News on Sunday after speaking at the Best of the Midwest football camp at Grand Valley State.

The decision was made by the university, not the football program.

Harbaugh had said at the start of spring practice there was a chance Evans could work his way back. Evans, no longer enrolled at Michigan and, obviously, no longer on a football scholarship, told The News in March the issue was “an academic mistake. Not my grades. I’m on pace to graduate.”

That leaves Michigan with Christian Turner (a redshirt freshman who missed most of spring practice with an injury), Tru Wilson (a former walk-on), true freshman Zach Charbonnet and converted tight end Ben VanSumeren.

 SCARY TERRY REPS THE SWOOSH. Terry McLaurin is officially a Nike athlete.

I can't wait for the eventual Nike commercial featuring Scary Terry flattening three defenders with one block.

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