Skull Session: TC Caffey Sheds His Black Stripe, NFL Scouts Love the Buckeyes and Palaie Gaoteote is Making Noise on Special Teams

By Chase Brown on September 15, 2022 at 5:00 am
TC Caffey

It's almost time, friends.

Only the Ryan Day Radio Show, a lightning round with the head coach and a few more articles on Eleven Warriors are between you and an Ohio State football game on Saturday.

You only get 12 regular-season contests to watch each fall, plus whatever postseason opportunities the Buckeyes are afforded. Take advantage of them.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 WELCOME ABOARD. Before the Ohio State season began, I researched the football team's 12 new walk-ons. I wanted to know who they were and from where they came. The most surprising information I found was on running back TC Caffey of Hubbard, Ohio.

As a high school senior, Caffey rushed for 2,638 yards and 37 touchdowns, averaging 219 yards per contest and 8.3 yards per carry. He was named the Trumbull County Player of the Year and earned first-team All-Ohio honors in Division III. Caffey finished his high school career with 4,659 yards and 57 touchdowns in 39 games.

So Caffey became a Buckeye. And, folks, he seems to be doing well for himself thus far. On Wednesday, the freshman ball carrier became the 10th member of the 2022 class to shed his black stripe.

 DEVELOPED HERE. Ohio State has plenty of players who could have prosperous futures in the NFL starting as soon as next season. Among them are C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Paris Johnson Jr.

That's how ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller saw it when he ranked the class of prospects for the 2023 NFL draft, a pool of players he considers to be headlined by the Buckeyes mentioned above.

According to Miller, Stroud is a proven talent with a legitimate first-round grade from pro scouts, and the same can be said for Smith-Njigba. He sees both going off the board within the first top 10 picks in 2023. Miller doesn't have Johnson as a surefire top pick but believes he has the potential to be one of two first-round tackles, along with Northwestern's Peter Skoronski.

Miller also name-dropped three more Buckeyes – Dawand Jones, Zach Harrison and Cameron Brown – as players receiving attention from front offices at the next level. He placed all six Ohio State products in tiers at their respective positions:

  • Tier 1: Serious first-round buzz - C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Paris Johnson Jr.
  • Tier 2: Potential to rise up draft boards - Zach Harrison
  • Tier 3: Possible mid-rounders to watch - Cameron Brown and Dawand Jones

My reason for sharing this is two-fold, with the primary purpose being to show you that Ohio State has some talented players on the roster this season. Secondly, it’s that many of Ohio State’s top players this season are players who might not actually be in the 2023 NFL draft.

Miller didn't write about every position, so I can't relay his thoughts on Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, Ronnie Hickman or Josh Proctor, but I found it interesting that only six Buckeyes were listed in this article.

However, the 2024 class could be full of early entrants to the draft, including Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, TreVeyon Henderson, J.T. Tuimoloau, Mike Hall and Jack Sawyer, while featuring a few more veterans in the draft class. That's why Ohio State is one of the country's best teams this season and will be consistently successful for years to come.

 A PACK OF DOGS. Palaie Gaoteote has made a significant impact on special teams for the Buckeyes this season, winning back-to-back special teams player of the week awards for his performances against Notre Dame and Arkansas State.

The Ohio State football Twitter account shared a video of Gaoteote explaining how important winning the special teams battle is for the Buckeyes and why he takes pride in being a part of the unit.

 THE PEOPLE. THE TRADITION. THE EXCELLENCE. Woody Hayes once said, “You win with people.” They were wise words at the time, and they are still wise words today.

The fall sports at Ohio State must have that motto in their locker rooms because the fine men and women running and competing for those programs are winning a lot. In fact, six Buckeye squads are ranked in the top 25 of their respective sports this week, so yeah, they are winning a lot.

Women’s hockey leads all programs as the No. 1 team in their poll, followed by football at No. 3, women’s volleyball at No. 5, women’s soccer at No. 21, men’s soccer at No. 22 and field hockey at No. 23.

I'd say things are pretty darn good for Ohio State sports right now. Still, it's one thing to be there now and another thing to be there at the end of the year. Buckeye Nation expects national championships, so it's time for those programs to prove they belong among the best of the best. Let's check back again later in the fall.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “LOVER (You Don't Treat Me No Good No More)” by Sonia Dada.

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