Skull Session: Black Stripes Are Coming Off, Justin Fields Impressing Bears Staff, Jaxon Smith-Njigba Nominated For Earl Campbell Award

By Chase Brown on August 10, 2022 at 5:00 am
Chip Trayanum isn't wearing a helmet here, but he lost his black stripe on Tuesday.
Chip Trayanum

Well, it looks like my first skull session went over well with the readers of Eleven Warriors.

But that was the easy part. Now, I have to deliver a sequel as good as, or better than, the original – like “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” "“Captain American: The Winter Soldier,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Godfather: Part II,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” or “Spider-Man 2.”

It's show time.

 SETTING THE MOOD. To start, I'll get out of the way and let TBDBITL kick off your morning routine:

 YOU GET A RED STRIPE! YOU GET A RED STRIPE! Ohio State's black stripe tradition is one of my favorites in the football program. Urban Meyer brought the concept with him to Columbus from Gainesville, Florida, and Ryan Day continued the tradition when he took over as head coach in 2019. Earning your scarlet stripe comes from solidifying one's place on the team in the coaching staff's eyes.

Linebacker Chip Trayanum, a third-year transfer from Arizona State, and true freshman cornerback Jyaire Brown shed their black stripes to reveal scarlet stripes on Tuesday. Now, all they need are Buckeye leaves, and their helmets will be complete.

It always makes me smile when thinking of players receiving recognition and rewards for their work, especially those looking to make a name for themselves while playing for one of college football's best teams.

 NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND. A Barstool Sports tweet about former Buckeye and current Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields caught my attention on Monday:

Although I listed Ted Ginn Jr. as my favorite Ohio State football player of all time, Fields is comfortably in my top five and could challenge Ginn for first place. Because of that, I won't take any Fields slander – on Twitter or anywhere else – so I started searching for clips and quotes that would defend him, which were pretty easy to find.

According to several Bears beat reporters, Fields was impressive in an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday and made the most of his limited offensive weapons, which did not include trade acquisition N'Keal Harry, who suffered a potentially severe ankle injury on Monday.

 ANOTHER WATCH LIST FOR JSN. I've lost count of how many preseason watch lists exist, and I've also lost track of how many have Ohio State players on them.

Smith-Njigba was the latest to add another watch list nomination to his résumé on Tuesday when he was one of 63 players named to the watch list for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.

The award recognizes the sport's most prolific offensive talent that hails from Texas and meets criteria set by a committee of journalists, college football dignitaries and each of the all-time winners. The player selected will “encourage student-athletes to succeed on and off the field while having the drive and tenacity to persist and overcome adversity and injury in the pursuit of reaching their goals.”

To my knowledge, Smith-Njigba has never been injured at Ohio State, meaning he might lose points in that department. However, the Rockwall, Texas native is the best player on the list. If the committee is only looking for the best offensive player on the list, I think Smith-Njigba will have an excellent chance of hoisting the hardware.

 LOW-BALLING THE BUCKEYES? Ohio State men's basketball will look much different in 2022-23 as it returns only five players from last season's roster: Eugene Brown II, Justice Sueing, Zed Key, Kalen Etzler and Seth Towns.

Brown and Key were the only substantial contributors of that bunch, with Sueing and Towns suffering season-ending injuries and Etzler redshirting. Maybe that's why ESPN's Joe Lunardi put the Buckeyes on the bubble in his 2023 NCAA Tournament bracketology.

There are still seven months until March Madness takes place, which might allow Lunardi some time to learn about transfers Tanner Holden, Isaac Likekele, Sean McNeil and the top-10 recruiting class head coach Chris Holtmann and his staff brought to campus this year. That class includes four-star small forward Brice Sensabaugh, who has been a bucket all offseason in the Kingdom League and Ohio State’s Bahamas exhibitions.

Oh, and the men's basketball team isn't slowing down anytime soon. In fact, Ohio State has been on a recruiting roll. With the commitments of Scotty Middleton, George Washington III, Devin Royal and Austin Parks in the class of 2023, the Basketbucks have plenty of potential to compete for Big Ten titles in the years to come.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Blu” by Jon Bellion. He is my favorite musician in the game today.

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Serena Williams will retire after the U.S. Open... Case Keenum goes undercover at Buffalo Bills training camp... Marshawn Lynch was arrested in Las Vegas for driving under the influence... A study suggests spiders may sleep like humans... Science Channel host to swim from Canada to Greenland.

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