Skull Session: Teams Are Getting Creative With Rosters Amid COVID-19, LeBron James Approves Malaki Branham's Commitment, and Ohio State Has Dominated the Transfer Market

By Kevin Harrish on July 23, 2020 at 4:59 am
The shoe is a beaut in today's skull session.

Folks, if you see this adorable fuzz creature during your adventures today, please resist the urge to snuggle it and call the zoo to bring her home.

Word of the Day: Cavort.

 BY COMMITTEE. The Very Bad Virus is forcing everybody to be a little creative these days, and it sounds like one coach is already developing safeguards to make sure he's got a quarterback at all times this year.

It feels like a football program has to operate like a wartime government right now – never have all the important people in one place at the same time.

 JUST KIDS FROM AKRON. Ohio's top player, Malaki Branham, chose the Buckeyes yesterday, and it looks the current Kid From Akron has the King's approval.

Between Branham (who's three spots away from being a five-star prospect) and Meechie Johnson (who's playing like a five-star prospect since returning from his injury), that's one hell of a loaded backcourt.

I'll have one. I'll have a Final Four.

 ANOTHER IMPACT TRANSFER. The Buckeyes don't always bring in transfers, but when they do, it's the arguably best transfer in the country.

So, going back the past four years, Ohio State brought in:

  • 2017: Kendall Sheffield (best JUCO corner in the nation)
  • 2018: Antwuan Jackson (best overall JUCO player in the nation)
  • 2019: Justin Fields (top overall transfer) & Jonah Jackson (top offensive lineman transfer)
  • 2020: Trey Sermon (arguably the top running back transfer)

All they did it without sacrificing high school recruiting, either, pulling in top-5 classes three of those five years with the down year only coming because they only had room for 17 players.

The transfer market can be a tricky thing to master, but I'd say they've figured it out.

 THANK YOU, I'LL HAVE ANOTHER. Speaking of recruiting, Ohio State's looking to make the cut for *another* five-star player today as five-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh is trimming his list.

There's still a legit chance Ohio State lands Leigh, and there's a legit chance he's one of *eight* five-star prospects that eventually signs with the Buckeyes in 2021, out of about 30 possible five-star prospects.

This is absurd.

 THE ONE-HOUR FLIP. I very rarely share our own stories in the Skull Session because frankly, I think it's a bit incestuous and y'all know where to find our other stories anyway (hint – click the "Eleven  Warriors" button in the top left corner).

That said, Zack's story on Jantzen Dunn's one-hour flip from Oklahoma to Ohio State is absolutely worth sharing again, because it's the first time anyone's ever talked about what the hell happened during that wild April night.

“We had asked some schools about being committable, but we had never talked to Ohio State about it,” Mitchell says now. “He stressed that J was a take from day one. It was just miscommunication there.

“We just weren’t clear that Ohio State was committable because he’s coming out of Kentucky. And that’s just tough, coming out of Kentucky we don’t get the respect. … That’s when Coach Barnes made it very clear he could commit to Ohio State.”

Everything changed in that split second. The Dunns got off the phone with Barnes, telling him they would give him a call back.

Jantzen and Mitchell sat down, their heads spinning a bit, and they were now going into a decision mode that can only be described as frantic but still thorough. After all, Jantzen had long ago made up his mind that Columbus was the place for him.

“In the recruiting process, Ohio State was where I wanted to go, and if I wasn’t a take there, I was gonna weigh my options,” Jantzen says. “That’s where my whole top seven came into place.”

There's so many behind-the-scenes shenanigans that go on in recruiting that I'm eternally grateful for heroes like Zack for leading me through it with some semblance of clarity. It's like walking me through a gigantic, pitch-black cave and he's the only one with the lantern.

 SONG OF THE DAY. Modern Drift by Efterklang.

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