Skull Session: Ryan Day's Mental Health Focus Makes a Difference, Jaxon Smith-Njigba Sat and Learned, and Buckeyes Help in Community

By Kevin Harrish on May 2, 2022 at 4:59 am
JSN is rolling the punches in today's skull session.

Brian Hartline just had his first first-round picks as a coach, and he's out here reminding NFL GMs that he should have had another one two years ago.

I've got a strong hunch teams aren't going to sleep on Hartline's receivers anymore after this year.

Word of the Day: Solicitous.

 MENTAL HEALTH. Ryan Day has been loud and proud about leading his team in focusing on mental health since the day he was hired as Ohio State's head coach, and by all accounts, it hasn't just been a talking point – he's been about that action.

According to Candice Williams, one of Ohio State's athletic counselors, Day has embraced mental health education the most of any coach she currently works with and she's starting to see results.

From my old pal The Lantern Sheridan Hendrix of The Columbus Dispatch:

"The ecosystem and culture of sports is performative and outcome-based," said Candice Williams, an Ohio State athletic counsel. "Winning is very much the theme that permeates those lives. So much that we lost the people and only focus on the athlete."

That pressure to always succeed can lead some athletes to internalize feelings of failure or doubt, Williams said. Coupled with the belief that struggling or seeing a counselor is a sign of weakness, there are a lot of reasons why an athlete may hide or ignore their mental health issues.

But that narrative continues to change for the better, Houle and Williams said, as more athletes – both professional and amateur – speak up and share their experiences with mental health. 


Of the six teams that Williams regularly works with, she said Ohio State Football Coach Ryan Day has embraced mental health and wellness education the most. Williams joins the team in the training room, at practice and for meals.

This is obviously an extreme example, but if we're talking about success stories of Ohio State's mental health focus, part of me wonders if Harry Miller might not be here had he chosen another school, or arrived at Ohio State at a different time.

What Ohio State, Day, and now Harry is doing is vitally important. And as an alumnus, I am extremely proud to see that change happening.

 LEARNING FROM THE WINGS. Jaxon Smith-Njigba could have gone pretty much anywhere in the country and probably played right away – I mean, y'all saw the catch he made in his first collegiate game.

Instead, he chose to come to Ohio State, where he could sit behind a few first-rounders, soak up the culture, and develop into the best player he can possibly be.

And now he's entering this season as the absolute consensus No. 1 receiver in the country while those other three guys all went in the top-12 of the NFL Draft. I have a strong, strong hunch that he's next.

To all five-star teens: there's a roadmap right in front of you. Follow it to Buckeyeland.

 DO GOOD, SPREAD LOVE. We spend a lot of time on this website talking about how the Bucks do on the football field – most of the time, in fact! – but every now and then I need to tell y'all about these dudes doing some pretty incredible stuff off the field, as well.

Last week, we had Gee Scott Jr. taking time out of his day to make a hospital visit to a fan recovering from a massive stroke.

And this weekend we had Miyan Williams making a difference in the lives of a bunch of kids, and becoming a neighborhood legend in the process. 

These don't appear to be team-organized events, it's not mandatory community service, or anything like that. They just genuinely wanted to make a difference in others' lives because that's just the way they're wired.

That mentality is going to take them a lot further in life than anything they'll ever do on the field (to be clear, they're both extremely good at doing football, too).

 LIFE COMES AT YOU FAST. How it started:

How it's going:

Ohio State had its fewest number of picks in seven years and is still making Texas look like a damn JV team. Though, to be fair, I think Texas is really the one making Texas look like a JV team, at this point. But congrats on that move to the SEC!

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Older Than I Am" by Lennon Stella.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A crime beyond belief... The hustler at the end of the world... The many lives of a fake pro cycler... A man married to a hologram can't talk to his wife due to a software glitch... Researchers keep finding creepy dolls washing up on Texas beaches... Honeybees join humans as the only known animals that can tell the difference between odd and even numbers... The U.S. Army replaces a cake it stole from an Italian girl in 1945...

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