Skull Session: Ohio State Needs an Answer About the Dead Period, Jamari Wheeler Will Bring the Defense, and LeBron James Salutes Malaki Branham

By Kevin Harrish on April 8, 2021 at 4:59 am
The quarterbacks are practicing a very important play in today's skull session.

Folks, D'Angelo Russell is back.

Word of the Day: Wring.

 END IN SIGHT? Colleges haven't been able to host recruits on campus in well over a year, which is quite the challenge when you're trying to convince a five-star teen to attend your school that's 2,000 miles away from home.

We still have no idea when that dead period is going to be lifted, which means five-star defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau still doesn't know where he'll be going to school, or whether he'll even be able to visit those schools before he makes that decision.

This is probably a bit of a no-brainer, but it needs to be said anyway. After months of will-it-or-won’t-it conversations, a final answer is needed about the dead period one way or another.

Getting that answer is a big deal for every college program, but it could be more important for Ohio State than most. The Buckeyes are in a holding pattern with 5-star 2021 defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau, waiting more than a year for his chance to visit Columbus. The fact that he and his family have continued to be patient waiting for that visit is a good thing. But at some point it just has to happen.

There have been dates discussed between Tuimoloau and Ohio State. Those discussions will not turn into real plans until the NCAA makes an actual announcement. For Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, USC and Washington, wrapping up the 2021 class is more important right now than anything else. Tuimoloau is the type of player who will make an impact as a freshman no matter where he ends up.

It's wild that we're more than halfway through spring practices and we still have no idea if a player who will see meaningful snaps as a true freshman is even going to be playing for the Buckeyes.

Also, this illustrates just how bad this year sucked for an average high school prospect. When you're the No. 3 player in the country like Tuimoloau, you can kind of set your own timeline for this sort of thing and rest easy that there will be a roster spot for you. The three-star tight end from Winterset Iowa doesn't really have that luxury.

 DEFENSE IS COMING. As good as the Ohio State offense was this year, the Buckeyes were just agonizingly terrible on defense.

If we're being honest, this team gave off extreme 2018 football season vibes, and Oral Roberts was cast as Purdue.

But fear not, Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler is here to help.

“One thing (my dad) always taught me was every night you’re not going to be able to score 20 or what you want to score, but you’ve got to affect the game or find ways to win and do other things to help your team out,” Wheeler said. “That’s something my dad installed me.”


“What also made me want to stay in the Big Ten, these last two years I feel like I got robbed for defensive player of the year,” Wheeler said. “Going into that, knowing they need that defense and knowing I want to be defensive player of the year next year, that’s a perfect fit for me.”


“They’re already a winning program,” Wheeler said. “I want to take winning to the next level and get past that hump. Next year, we’re trying to win the Big Ten and a national championship. That’s our goals, set.”

The Buckeyes are absolutely bringing him in for his defense, but earlier this year I watched him – just a 29 percent three-point shooter in his career – hit three of four threes in a loss to Ohio State. Here's hoping that version of him comes around a little more when he trades in his threads for Scarlet and Gray.

 KING TO KING SALUTE. Speaking of hoops reinforcements, the Buckeyes are also bringing in Ohio Mr. Basketball Malaki Branham – and he's King James approved.

LeBron won three Ohio Mr. Basketball awards during his time at SVSM, Branham has one. According to the math I just invented, that must mean that Branham is a third as good as LeBron was coming out of high school, which would be uh... just fine with me!

 ALL HANDS ON DECK. The Ohio State women's volleyball team begins its NCAA Tournament run next week, and Ryan Day's out there doing his part to make sure they bring home that natty.

I'm not sure how this works, but if Kerry Coombs doesn't give them a hype talk before they depart for Omaha, someone messed up.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath.

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