Skull Session: Demario McCall's Rose Bowl Leadership, Ohio State's Practice Led to Jaxon Smith-Njigba's Catch, and Duane Washington Jr. Shines in the NBA

By Kevin Harrish on January 3, 2022 at 5:30 am
Demario McCall is a hero in today's skull session.

Here's a reminder that once the ball's snapped, Ryan Day's basically just one of us.

I'm certain he wasn't the only one uttering those words.

Word of the Day: Aver.

 THE G.O.A.T. STEPPED UP. I should have seen this coming, but it turns out the hero of the Rose Bowl wasn't Jaxon Smith-Njigba or C.J. Stroud after all – it was...

... Demario McCall.

“Demario McCall — you guys weren’t in there, but hats off to that dude,” tight end-turned-linebacker Cade Stover said. “One of the most respected guys in that locker room for what he’s done.

“He got up in front of us and it was that ‘toughness was a mindset.’ We went out there and strapped in, buckled in, and we were alright.”


McCall said he could not repeat his message in front of reporters cameras. He could, though, recount from where he found his inspiration.

“I’ve been down before,” McCall said. “In the locker room, watching guys. When I was a freshman, watching Terry McLaurin step up. Watching Parris Campbell step up. Billy Price — all of them. Just seeing them step to the team when they was down.

“They left a legacy behind. I wanted to leave one too, so hopefully the next year, if it happens — hopefully it don’t happen — somebody else will do it, too.”

I'm sure y'all have read enough Skull Sessions to know of my unabashed affection for Demario McCall, but today I can say with full sincerity and without even a hint of irony that he has earned himself an absurd amount of respect.

McCall was a top-50 player coming out of high school and has been almost recklessly misused and underdeveloped to the point that he played three positions across both sides of the ball over a six-year career.

If the transfer portal was built for anybody on Earth, it was built for Demario McCall, who managed to make plays nearly every time he got the chance (the dude averaged 7.9 yards a touch) but still rode the bench for most of his career and even switched to defense and special teams for his final season because that's what would help the team.

He never transferred. He never publically complained. He never blamed anybody else. He always kept a positive attitude. And clearly, he emerged as an important leader on a team that needed him.

The reality is, nobody's going to remember his name a couple of decades from now. But truthfully, in this new era of college football, what he did and brought to this team is rarer than any first-round pick, All-American, or Heisman contender. And I respect the hell out of that.

He says he wants to play at the next level – which, why the hell not? – but whatever he does in life, I will always be a fan. And it's no longer just because of some incredible photos on social media (though, let's be honest, those certainly don't hurt).

 TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba completed that long go-ahead touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter (I'm talking about the aforementioned "he caught it, he fucking caught it" touchdown, to be clear).

But they probably aren't surprised. Because it turns out that as insane as the play was, they've been doing that exact thing in practice for years.

I entered Saturday night's game believing that what we saw in the Rose Bowl was going to be a preview of what we see next season.

If that's anywhere close to true... my God.

 DUANE'S WORLD. Someone must have informed the Buckeye basketballers of current and past that it's now properly hoops season because Malaki Branham wasn't the only one to put up some big numbers yesterday.

I didn't watch the game so I can neither confirm or deny whether there was a classic Duane Washington Jr. heat check involved, but if Pacers fans have yet to experience that, I pray they accept him for who he is with open arms and open hearts!

Also, I love the use of "career high" here, after his second career start.

 NEW YEAR, SAME RECRUITING DOMINANCE. A tradition like no other – Ohio State having enough future players at a high school all-american game to do this:

I now look forward to the next one, which will almost certainly take place at that All-American Bowl on Saturday.

 TREAT YOURSELF IN 2022. I'm delighted to inform you all that the auction I've come to call "The Best Damn Auction in the Land" is at it again, and once again, you are going to want to take a scroll.

Sloopy Auctions is kicking off their 100 Year Celebration of Ohio Stadium auction today, and it's full of some incredible pieces of Buckeye history that are older or as old as The 'Shoe itself – old programs, band sheet music, and even an original seat from Ohio Stadium's stands.

There's more modern stuff, as well, if that's more your speed – signed helmets, jerseys, Gold Pants, and letterman jackets.

Even if you don't have the disposable income right now, it's worth a scroll. It's like a damn Ohio State football museum.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "The Kids Aren't Alright" by The Offspring.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. The ‘fake landlord’ scam destroys lives, but culprits rarely face consequences... The emerging science of stool transplants and designer gut bacteria... How the U.S., U.K. and Pakistan teamed up to stop another 9/11... Picturing the ancient moon... An ‘Alien megastructure’ star may not be alone... You have no idea how hard it is to get a hampster drunk... Space colonists will likely resort to cannibalism...

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