Skull Session: Looking at Julian Flemings Film, Chris Holtmann is Underrated, and Ohio State's Best Tradition

By Kevin Harrish on June 10, 2019 at 4:59 am
The Chrome Domes are featured in today's Skull Session.

Folks, I'm happy to report that a good sports thing happened this weekend, courtesy of Max Muncy, who the Cincinnati Reds should trade for immediately.

Every single home run should be stared at with admiration and celebrated with a glorious bat flip, but especially if it travels 600 feet and lands in the bay. If the pitcher doesn't like that, there's a very easy solution...


Word of the Day: Rollick.

 AS ADVERTISED. About two weeks ago, Ohio State landed the supposed nation's best receiver in five-star Julian Fleming. And looking at the tape, that claim seems to check out.

From Jake Burns of

Fleming has all the tools at his disposal. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, he brings the ideal size and speed combination for the position. Mix in his near 38-inch vertical jump and you have a player who can win with leaping ability, speed, or quickness. 

In his first three years at Southern Columbia High School is Catawissa, Pa., he has accumulated 183 receptions for 3,942 yards, and 55 touchdowns. The numbers are staggering. 

Fleming has clocked an official 4.63 40, but expect that number to improve with age as his film shows a player who is much faster. His game shows the toughness, both over the middle and on the perimeter, that he bullies those trying to cover him and can't be jammed at the line of scrimmage. 

That same physicality shows up in the red zone as well, as the junior was untouchable on jump ball situations and quick slants. 

If you're at all concerned with that 40 time, don't be. Michael Thomas ran a 4.57 at the NFL combine and he seems to be doing just fine, so I'm not fretting about a 4.63 out of high school for a kid who nobody can guard and wins every jump ball thrown his way.

4.6 seconds is more than fast enough for a receiver that does everything else well, and Fleming is as complete as a receiver gets. You don't get 4,000 receiving yards in your first three high school seasons by accident.

Jake looked at Fleming's tape to break down his short-area agility, ball tracking, high-point ability, yards after catch and special teams impact. I'd do the real big read of it if I were you, because Jake knows what he's talking about, but the simple TL;DR is that Fleming extremely damn good.

Toss him opposite of Garrett Wilson and what the hell do you do if you're an opposing secondary? Run backwards and pray?

 UNDER-RATED *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP CLAP CLAP*. I remember how terrified I was when the Buckeyes were looking for a new head basketball coach in the middle of the summer. I thought it was going to be a disaster and that every good option had already landed somewhere else (namely, Archie Miller).

But as we've since grown accustomed in these here Skull Sessions, I was an idiot who was wrong. The Buckeyes ended up getting the best-possible guy for the job, and two years in, fans probably don't appreciate him as much as they should.

In fact, Myron Medcalf of ESPN has Chris Holtmann as the No. 6 most under-appreciated head coach in the country.

6. Chris Holtmann: Since accepting the Ohio State job in the summer of 2017 following Thad Matta's dismissal, Holtmann has won 45 games and finished within the top 25 in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings in both seasons. Last season, he ended a challenging 2018-19 -- top players CJ Walker (shoulder injury) and Kaleb Wesson (suspension for violating athletic department policy) missed a total of four key games down the stretch -- with a win over Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It was his sixth consecutive 20-win season, a streak dating to his final season at Gardner-Webb in 2013. Though the Ohio State football shadow trumps anything that happens on campus, Holtmann is off to an impressive start. And with next year's incoming fleet of talent, Ohio State should be a top-25 team again.

I think the hardcore Buckeye fans genuinely do appreciate the hell out of him, and the casuals only see results, which haven't happened yet. But they will come around when the deep tournament runs inevitably come, sooner than later.

 CHANGING HIS STARS. Recruiting rankings absolutely do matter and also I would take A.J. Hawk over any five-star linebacker the Buckeyes have ever signed, in hindsight. Both of those statements can be – and very much are – true.

Hawk was a three star, but there was never really much doubt how good he was even as a freshman. Thankfully for the local team, there was never really much doubt where he was going to school, either.

From Marcus Hartman of the Dayton Daily News:

“When Ohio State offered it was a no-brainer for me,” Hawk said. “Coach (Jim) Tressel offered me and I tried to commit right on the spot. He wanted me to go home and talk to my parents and OK it, but I said trust me they know. They know it’s where I want to be. 

“For me it was no question — growing up in Centerville I knew if I had a chance to play at Ohio State I was not going to turn it down. I didn’t give it much thought however many stars you get in high school and what kind of recruit you may be. I was just happy to be there.” 

The lowest-rated of four linebackers Ohio State signed in 2002, Hawk ended up with as many All-Big Ten seasons as recruiting stars (three). 

A lot of folks like to make Hawk the poster child of their "stars don't matter!" tirade, but let's not pretend like the top-10 outside linebacker the Buckeyes also signed in that class wasn't a first-round pick, as well.

What Hawk really shows is how important it is to identify can't-miss Ohio talent early. Under Urban Meyer, there's a solid chance Hawk would have ended up at Wisconsin, Iowa or Michigan State. The Buckeyes would have survived, for sure, but I like this version of history better.

 A TRADITION LIKE NO OTHER. Ohio State is one of the most tradition-rich programs and football teams in the entire country.

There are so many iconic traditions that when I saw ESPN put out a list of the "Best football tradition for each top 25 team," I assumed their pick for Ohio State would be pretty contentious among the Buckeye faithful.

I was so very wrong.

From Dan Murphy of ESPN:

5. Ohio State

Beating Michigan. Seven years in a row (and 14 of the past 15) is long enough to be deemed a tradition in modern-day college football, is it not? The victories have often been memorable and frequently launched the Buckeyes forward into a championship game in recent seasons. If the Wolverines end the drought in the wake of Urban Meyer's retirement, Ohio State can always fall back on that big, beautiful sousaphone "dotting the i" as the band finishes unfurling its script Ohio formation.

Full agreement here, but if we're going this route, that would mean that Michigan's tradition would be...

 EARLY ACTION. Football is still almost three months away, but you can now bet on half of Ohio State's games, if you're into that sort of thing.

The sports book already has early lines for six Ohio State football games, and the Buckeyes are favorites in all but the biggest one.

  • Ohio State -26 vs. FAU
  • Ohio State -7 @ Nebraska
  • Ohio State -13.5 vs. Michigan State
  • Ohio State -9 vs. Wisconsin
  • Ohio State -10 vs. Penn State
  • Ohio State +3 @ Michigan

What if I were to tell you that there was a betting trend that hit .933 percent of the time over the past 15 years in Ohio State vs. Michigan games...

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