Skull Session: Julian Fleming Ranked Top Prospect at Under Armor All-American Game, Darnay Holmes Elects to Go Pro, and Ohio State Had a Top-Five Offensive Line

By Kevin Harrish on January 7, 2020 at 4:59 am
TBDBITL is here in today's Skull Session.

It looks like Cardale Jones is breaking out his old Buckeye gear for the XFL.

And y'all thought football season was almost over...

Word of the Day: Equable.

 BEST AMONG THE BEST. Ohio State's wide receiver haul in 2020 just ain't fair and it all starts with a lad who was just rated as the best prospect at a game featuring a collection of the best prospects across the country.

To quote the 1997 American film titled Men in Black, Julian Fleming is "the best of the best of the best – sir!"

Top Prospect: WR Julian Fleming

Fleming came in to the game as the top rated player by 247Sports at No. 4 and more then lived up to the hype. In fact in my four years covering the UA Game, Fleming is the best receiver I’ve seen at the event and it’s tough to find any discernible weakness in his game.

He has a college body right now, a well built 6-2, 200 pounds and can overwhelm an opposing corner physically. We’ve seen receivers with Fleming’s size and muscularity before who are a little stiff but Fleming is very fluid in his movement, an explosive route runner with high end body control. He can easily get off press coverage, has the speed to run right past just about any corner and is a polished route runner as well.

On top of that, every day we saw him, he competed at a very high level. Every corner in the game was calling him out during drills, hoping to earn some praise by winning a rep against him but it rarely happened. He has strong hands, catches the ball through contact and shows the ability to run after the catch. When you combine the physical traits with his skill set, work ethic as well as his compete level, it’s tough to envision Fleming not having an immediate impact at Ohio State and being a ‘three and out’ type of player before heading to the next level.

My favorite fun fact about Fleming is that he played in a damn Wing-T offense in high school, which is the exact opposite way to produce the nation's best wide receiver. But he's so good he still had more than 4,000 career receiving yards and 56 touchdown catches.

That's also the reason I think he'll get on the field sooner than the other three top-100 receivers (yes – I am boldly predicting that the nation's top receiver and No. 4 overall prospect is going to play early. This is the next-level analysis you pay top dollar for). Young receivers are usually liabilities as blockers, but Fleming has been forcibly moving folks his entire high school career. He'll be good to go on day one.

 A PORTAL CLOSES. The (extremely) good news is that Shaun Wade will be back for his fourth season at Ohio State this year, but the former five-star corner who could have been playing opposite of him will be jumping to the NFL instead.

Yes, Jeff Okudah, but also potential graduate transfer target Darnay Holmes.

Holmes, the junior cornerback, received a grade from the NFL that projected him to be drafted in the third round or better, according to sources, and that was enough to convince him to leave UCLA a year early. 

Holmes' departure isn't surprising, with it being assumed and expected for some time. 

Having been a starter at cornerback for all three of his seasons at UCLA, Holmes had a marginal junior season. He was injured in fall camp and never seemed to recover fully from the injury.  His sophomore season, though, bordered on dominating.  In that season, he totaled 49 tackles, 3 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 11 pass break-ups, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. 

If that name sounds familiar to you, it's because he was heavily recruited by Ohio State coming out of high school and was once a Buckeye lean. If he would have signed with Ohio State (either out of high school or as a graduate), it would have meant the top-three cornerbacks in the 2017 class played in a Buckeye uniform. Instead, we'll just have to settle for the top-two.

I guess his nephew will be forever disappointed.

 ELITE IN THE TRENCHES. Urban Meyer used to love talking about how Ohio State was an offensive line-driven team like it was a huge source of pride, but truthfully I have yet to find a competent football team at any level that isn't driven by the offensive line.

But the good news is, Ohio State's offensive line was extremely good this season, ranking fourth in the country according to Pro Football Focus, and the highest-rated player is coming back for more next season.

Highest-graded player: OG Wyatt Davis – 82.6 (4th)

Ohio State's offensive line really helped set the tone for OSU's success in 2019, keeping QB Justin Fields clean on 67.4% of his dropbacks and allowing pressure 3.11 seconds after the snap on average, the latter figure ranking eighth-best in the country.

It's tough to complain about anything that puts you at No. 4 out of 130, but this is Ohio State so that's exactly what we're going to do: it sure feels like the slobs should be No. 1 and I'm betting the only reason they aren't is because the Buckeyes rank 98th in the country in sacks allowed and 99th in sack percentage, which isn't great!

Granted, it's tough to put all (or most) of that on the offensive line. The slobs ranked No. 8 in the country in giving the quarterback time to throw and still gave up a sack on almost 8% of dropbacks. Something else is going on there.

The obvious answer is "Justin Fields needs to get rid of the damn ball sooner," which is undeniably true, but also maybe Ohio State should probably call fewer two-man routes where the third read in the progression is literally "scramble around/take a sack."

I'd shoot Ryan a quick text on the matter, but I'm betting I already know his response.

Touché, Ryan. Touché.

 DOGS ON THE ROAD. The BasketBucks have lost two straight games, and Vegas is predicting a third, making Chris Holtmann's squad a 2.5-point underdog on the road against No. 12 Maryland.

And you know what? That's fair. Kyle Young's status is in question (I have very little hope that he'll be playing given that he had an internal organ surgically removed less than 10 days ago), the Buckeyes are all sorts of banged up otherwise and they certainly didn't look good against Wisconsin.

That said, doubt Chris Holtmann at your own risk, because this is still a team that's slapped two current top-20 teams by more than 25 points. Maryland could be next.

 THE BEST DAMN LEGO SET IN THE LAND. If you've ever wanted to see The Best Damn Band in the Land LEGOfied, you've got your wish.

The 'Shoe replica is pretty weak compared to Robert Siegel's famed creation, but it'll do.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. People are seeing ‘Cats’ while high out of their minds... Why pink collar crime is on the rise... A prison soccer match between rival cartels ends with 16 dead... A woman grows ‘literal pubic hair’ on her face after doctors use groin skin to repair a dog bite... The strange saga of Kowloon Walled City... Why outhouses have a crescent moon on the door... The people who feel no pain or suffering... A mysterious radio signal from space seems to have suddenly vanished.

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