If you would have told me that Ohio State's men's basketball and football teams would have the same ranking at Christmas, I would have assumed Ryan Day's squad would be prepping for the Outback Bowl right about now.
And yet, here we are.
Word of the Day: Mirth.
THE TWO APPRENTICES. Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence were two of the highest-rated quarterback prospects ever coming out of high school, and just happened to be in the same recruiting class, live less than 20 miles from one another and share the same private quarterbacks coach, Ron Veal.
Their rise as prospects began in north Georgia communities, separated by only 20 miles, where they were influenced by the same private quarterbacks coach.
“He’s helped me for a long time,” Fields said. “I would definitely give him a lot of credit from where my quarterback skills come from.”
At times, he still trains Fields. Like when Fields returned to north Georgia this past May and sought to improve his footwork at the encouragement of Day.
Fields went through about a half-dozen sessions with Veal.
“If you need me, I’m here, like a resource, like a library,” Veal said. “If you need something, let’s see if we can work it out and get it right. That’s my philosophy."
It's wild that Lawrence and Fields spent their entire high school careers 20 miles apart and were compared endlessly throughout the recruiting process, and yet the first time they ever actually meet on the field is 1,800 miles away in Arizona.
Regardless, that is one hell of a track record for Veal, even if it is 100 percent by chance. And he apparently comes Ryan Day approved, which I always wonder about with these private quarterback trainers.
Here's hoping he helped prepare Fields just a litttttttttle bit better.
DIAMOND TO THE GRIDIRON. Justin Fields wasn't just a football star at Harrison High School, he could have also played college baseball if he wanted, as a top-250 prospect in the nation and the No. 44 shortstop.
Obviously, he chose football – and millions of Buckeye fans are eternally grateful – but his baseball past helps him even today.
“I think a lot of good quarterbacks played baseball before, so I’m just glad my dad had me play it as a kid,” Fields said.
“He’s always utilized his legs to get in a position to take ground balls,” said Veal, an Atlanta-based trainer who played quarterback at Arizona from 1987-90. "He’s always used his legs to pitch. He always utilized his legs to hit. So the carryover was kind of elementary for him.
“So when we started working as a quarterback, we just worked on his drops, his sets and learning to drive the ball with his legs and his hips and his core.”
I remember seeing a stat that the vast, vast majority of players Urban Meyer recruited played multiple sports in high school and didn't just specialize in one. It's something he actively pushed for among his prospects, because he and his staff felt that multiple sports at a younger age led to a much more well-rounded and healthy athlete than specialization would.
Plus, it's not like the skills don't carry over anyway, as we can clearly see with Fields.
TALES FROM THE END OF THE BENCH. Buckeye basketball walk-ons have become folk heroes of sorts since Mark Titus made it cool to pay money not to play basketball, instead of going to a smaller school for free to play basketball.
Titus was the forefather and the OG of the end of the bench. And now almost a decade later, the odd fraternity of moderately famous nonscholarship players lives on, and Marcus Horton of The Lantern got us a little inside peek.
“It’s not very often that you get a freshman walk-on, on a top 5 basketball program, who feels like he has the freedom to do and say whatever he wants,” Titus said. “I had that because I didn’t know any better. I was just ignorant.”
“All walk-ons have this unspoken bond between each other. They know what each other are going through, and they know what every person has to endure, and they know there’s not a ton of love that comes with it,” (Joey) Lane said. “We chose to sit on the bench instead of going and playing where we could play.”
Titus attributes a lot of his fame to the rise of Twitter and said the connection that walk-ons share today is because of the ability of the modern fan to see inside their lives.
“Every single walk-on has a story to tell,” Titus said. “I was the first to do it, but I don’t have the best story. There are guys who have funnier jokes to tell and better stories. I was just lucky enough to come along at the right time where I was the first to do it.”
I also can attribute my fame to the rise of Twitter. And similarly, my jokes and stories are also not very good. I am basically Mark Titus without the basketball (and to be fair, so was he).
BRAXTON MAKING MOVES. It looks like Braxton Miller is hopping into the television commercial game, and in totally unsurprising news, he managed to do his first ad without saying a damn thing.
I was going to make a joke about how much money Coke likely paid him to smile and wave a bottle back and forth. But you know, if there's anyone who deserves an easy paycheck after earning nothing for ruining his body for five years for my enjoyment, it's Braxton Miller.
EAR BLEEDIN' MUSIC. If you needed any more reasons to dislike Clemson this week, go ahead and give this video a solid 11 seconds of your time and you'll be ready flay anything orange purely by association.
I want to know what the hell is up southerners thinking “a” and “er” rhyme. Alabama tries to do it with their damn "rammer jammer yellow hammer" chant and now we've got the Clemson faithful trying to force a slant rhyme of "finer" and "Carolina."
Just stick to forcing an underdog tag onto yourself cause songwriting ain't your thing.
NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. The story of a Christmas dinner near the North Pole in 1881... A new chapter in a double murder case... Science explains why we should all work shorter hours in winter... A father shoots a barber during an argument over his 13-year-old son's haircut... The Santa Claus bank heist of 1927...