It's always crazy when people larger than life are gone so suddenly. It's a reminder that life is fragile.
Hug the folks you love extra today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.
Word of the Day: Prolix.
UNCLE KOBE. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like yesterday's news about Kobe Bryant. I can't tell you the last time that there was an event so big, so rattling and so unbelievable that pretty much everyone I know was reacting to it seemingly nonstop.
For a solid three hours, at least 98 percent of the Tweets on my timeline were about Kobe. Every conversation I was having was about Kobe. Everything on the news was about Kobe. Shit, my mother who's never watched an NBA game in her life texted me asking if I heard what happened to Kobe.
But as crazy as it was for me – and probably y'all too, assuming your circle didn't include Mamba – I'd never met Kobe, much less had a relationship with him. But to Duane Washington Jr., Kobe was like an uncle. So it hit a little different.
Each player took the news in his own way, but none felt it more acutely than Washington. The nephew of longtime Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who played with Bryant for much of his career, Washington was close enough to call Bryant “Uncle Kobe.”
So when Washington called his father out of disbelief, the news shook him.
“I didn’t believe it was real at first,” Washington told The Dispatch.
As he recalled the sequence of events following Sunday evening’s 71-59 win over Northwestern, Washington’s voice wavered. One tear slid out of his right eye as freshman teammate D.J. Carton, standing to his left, wrapped his right arm around Washington’s neck for comfort.
Washington and Bryant hadn’t seen each other since Washington lived with Fisher while spending his senior high school season at Chatsworth (California) Sierra Canyon, Washington said. It had been a different story as a youngster.
“I remember going to my uncle’s games and (Bryant) always coming up to me and calling me ‘neph’ (nephew) and giving me a hug and telling me I’m getting bigger every time I saw him,” Washington said. “It’s Kobe Bryant, man. I looked up to him as a role model. It’s just heartbreaking to have an unfortunate accident like that.”
Washington said he never considered sitting out last night's matchup with Northwestern, and he had himself a solid game, playing the third-most minutes on the team (28) and finishing with eight points, three boards, three assists and no turnovers in the road win.
And he had his own personal nod to Uncle Kobe on his shoes.
I know how weird it makes me feel that Kobe's gone so suddenly, I cannot imagine what it feels like for those who were close to him. Prayers up for everyone involved, from the rest of the Bryant family to Duane to all everyone who ever knew him personally.
What a wild, wild day.
IMPACTING EVERY PLAY. I'm not sure I was fully prepared for how absurdly dominant Chase Young was this year, and because of that I'm not sure I properly enjoyed it as it was happening.
In every game he played, he was the best football player on the field, hands down, case closed. And I think the more we look back on this season, the more clear that's going to become.
I mean, just look at this ludicrousness.
Chase Young's impact went further than sacks. He influenced entire game plans.— Cam Mellor (@PFF_Cam) January 23, 2020
Take for instance Northwestern: After a sack on Play 2, the Wildcats ran 16 straight designed plays away from Young (often an audible at the LOS).
He's No. 2 on the top 101:https://t.co/EdOMH80I9c pic.twitter.com/igGddv8HGE
And there are real people who actually believe he's overrated and that he "disappeared" in games teams had to entirely gameplan around him every snap. If you ever run across somebody who believes that in earnest, it's probably best to just smile and nod in acceptance that you can never value or trust any of their opinions about football ever again.
THE REAL OG. This turned into a K.J. Hill fan blog last week – and justifiably so – but he wasn't the only Buckeye who turned some heads at the Senior Bowl.
Jonah Jackson had a hell of a week down in Mobile.
Jonah Jackson, vs Darrion Daniels, Nebraska— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) January 22, 2020
Great anchor by Jackson, hes been excellent today pic.twitter.com/RTFyUfmzJo
Jonah Jackson shuts down an inside stunt by Minnesota defensive end Carter Coughlin. pic.twitter.com/tOMS44KLX1— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 22, 2020
Jackson was such a dominant human-mover and human-stopper that Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus now has him in the conversation as the top guard in the draft and solidly among the top-50 players in the class.
Jackson firmly put himself into the conversation for PFF’s OG1. He doesn’t have the raw power that our current top guard — Fresno State’s Netane Muti — possesses, but he is the most technically sound pass protector in the class. He’s a sure-fire top-50 player on our board.
I'm not going to pretend Ohio State's solely responsible for developing Jackson into the monster he is, cause that dude was a bonafide starter the second he stepped on campus. But at the end of the day, what helmet was he wearing down in Mobile? You better believe I'm gonna back him.
AMIR WILLIAMS, FINALS GAME MVP. Just as everyone expected, Amir Williams is Finals MVP. It was of the British Basketball League, but shit, I'm counting it, all things considered.
Amir Williams was a McDonald's All-American, after all. He's always had this in him, even if we rarely saw it in four years in Columbus. But it's fine. It's all good. At least he's shining somewhere.
MY WR COACH CAN MOSS YOUR WR COACH. We've been worried about Brian Hartline leaving Ohio State for another coaching job, but maybe we should be more worried about someone luring him back into the League, cause he's clearly still got it.
Its one thing to tell a young man how to run a route. Its another thing to SHOW them.— Brian Hartline (@brianhartline) January 24, 2020
Need to do a better job with my shoulders and eyes at the top of the route. I know I was worried about slipping but thats never an excuse. Trust your feet or Change your shoes pic.twitter.com/3nKZbZhUha
I also love that this is a veiled recruiting pitch, too.
Can your wide receivers coach do this?
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