Skull Session: Chris Spielman Speaks to the Linebackers Room, Damon Arnette Could Be a First-Round Surprise, and Chris Holtmann Has Benefitted From the Transfer Portal

By Kevin Harrish on April 22, 2020 at 4:59 am
Tony Alford is blowing his whistle in today's skull session.

So, who you taking?

Song of the Day: "When I met Death" by Right Away, Great Captain.

Word of the Day: Inundate.

 THE GOAT SPEAKS. Chris Spielman has been a hero to humanity throughout this crisis with his attempts to raise $40,000 for COVID-19 relief, but he took some time out of his world-saving to speak to the Buckeye linebackers.

I have no idea what they talked about, but I'm positive he was the right speaker to bring in regardless of the content. Dude is a straight-up winner at life and at football.

 SURPRISE FIRST ROUNDER? If you ask Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette is a first-round talent. And it's looking like there's an outside chance that NFL teams actually agree with ole Jefe's assessment.

There's a lot to sort out with Arnette, who has "been a wild [child] for a long time," according to an NFC scout who did extensive background work on him. Entering his senior year with the Buckeyes, Arnette (6-0, 195) had a reputation going back to high school as a handful for coaches -- cocky, prone to running his mouth -- and a guy they worried might struggle managing his life once he left the facility. But the word out of Ohio State this spring is Arnette matured under the wing of Jeff Hafley, who spent one season as the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach before taking the head job at Boston College. Arnette became a father and seems to have more of a purpose now. "To the kid's credit, maybe it's in his past. That's what you're banking on if you take him that high," an AFC executive said. "What his saving grace will be is he f---ing loves ball." Arnette earned second-team all-Big Ten honors last season despite playing the entire season with a broken wrist. He's tough, experienced (53 games, 38 starts) and plays with more swag than some of the other candidates to be the third cornerback off the board behind former Buckeyes teammate Jeff Okudah and Florida's CJ Henderson. Regardless of when he's selected, Arnette has the skills to become an immediate starter, either outside or at nickel. Said an NFC personnel director: "I could see someone taking him late in the first round, just because he's a talented kid, and [they're] willing to oversee some of the character stuff."

These Skull Sessions have basically just been a Damon Arnette fan blog the past few years as I conducted his bandwagon, and I'm not stopping now. He's probably the most experienced and one of the most versatile corners in the draft, and the reality is that he's got one hell of a resume, too.

Character concerns? If you make a living passing on a first-round talent he's "cocky" and "prone to running his mouth," you might be in the wrong profession.

 THE PORTAL GIVETH, TOO. Everyone's been freaking the hell out about the players Ohio State lost to the transfer portal the past few seasons, and I get it, you don't want that much roster turnover.

But the thing is, it's not a one-way street – the Buckeyes have also been adding players from the portal, too. And they did a pretty damn good job at it, again this season, checking in on 247Sports' list of teams who benefited the most from transfer season.

It has been a wild off season in Columbus with players entering the transfer portal and some coming to Columbus to finish out the roster. In the end, Ohio State lost three players and added another three, headlined by Towns.

Towns was one of the top available graduate transfers, and the fact that he has two years of eligibility makes it even better. At around 6-foot-8, Towns can be a stretch forward or a big wing, and has the ability shoot from deep as well as attack off the bounce in the right situation. A Player of the Year in the Ivy League in 2017-18, if Towns is back to full health, he can be a difference maker for the Buckeyes.

Porter and Sotos are in different molds than Towns. Porter should serve as a depth addition at point guard this upcoming season, while Sotos will provide experience to what will be a very young backcourt in 2021-22. Each player only has one year to play in Columbus, and while neither projects as a big contributor, both should fill a solid role in their year on the team.

I understand and agree that leaning on the portal this heavily is not a sustainable way to build a roster. But at the same time, I think there's more talent coming in than there is talent flowing out.

I mean, if I have to choose between CJ Walker, Justice Sueing, Seth Towns, Abel Porter and Jimmy Sotos and Luther Muhammad, Jaedon LeDee, D.J. Carton, and Alonzo Gaffney, I choose the former every time.

 YOU JUST HATE TO SEE THAT. You know what makes Ohio State's utter dominance on the recruiting trail taste even sweeter? Clemson's struggles. It seems there's a little trouble in Carolina as the Tigers have just lost the No. 1 prospect in the nation.

Chances are slim-to-none that he ends up at Ohio State, but a Clemson loss counts as a win enough in my book.

 I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS. Last week (maybe two weeks ago? every day is the same, it's starting to blur) I posted a call to arms, mobilizing my hordes of Internet doers to beat my enemies at a digital boardgame.

Thing is, it worked! But now it's not, because y'all stopped.

Is this just a trivial and mostly meaningless Internet game? Undeniably. Do I still want to win and remove every molecule of joy from the heart of Michigan Men in the process? Absolutely. So get out there. I'm not about to get clowned on by MGoBlog.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A collection of Michael Jordan gambling stories... The king who became a pirate... Foreign tourists are found self-isolating in an Indian cave... Mexico's president tells gangs to stop donating food and stop doing crime, instead... Sisters die 102 years apart from two separate global pandemics... 

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