Skull Session: Devin Brown Loves Slingin' Sammy Baugh, C.J. Stroud "Wowed Folks in Indy," JSN is "Kind of Unguardable" And OSU May Beat the Record For Combine Invites in 2024

By Chase Brown on March 8, 2023 at 5:00 am
Devin Brown

It's good to have Ohio State football back. It really is.

Let's talk about the Buckeyes today, tomorrow and every day after that.

And, perhaps most importantly, let's have a good Wednesday, shall we?

 EVER HEARD OF SLINGIN' SAMMY? Devin Brown dialed back the clock when he changed numbers from 15 to an old-school 33 at Ohio State. How old school is a number like 33 for a quarterback? Brown's inspiration for the switch was Sammy Baugh, a legendary football player for TCU and the Washington Redskins from 1934-52.

That's oldddddddd school.

For those who have never heard of the man called "Slingin' Sammy," here's a brief rundown of his career. After playing football, basketball and baseball at TCU, Baugh was selected by the Redskins as the No. 6 overall pick in the 1937 draft. Over the next 16 seasons in Washington, Baugh threw for over 21,000 yards and 126 touchdowns, a career worthy of becoming the first-ever quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And a brief fun fact: Baugh was also a standout defensive back and punter at both the collegiate and professional levels. He even held the NFL's single-season record for yards per punt (51.4) for 82 years until Tennessee Titans rookie set a new league-best mark with a 53.4-yard average in 2022.

I can see why Brown loves him.

Still, I wonder, why out of all players Brown loves Sammy Baugh, and why would he choose to wear the same number he wore over 80 years after he played? Because first of all, what 19-year-old knows who Baugh is, and second of all, what 19-year-old would pick Baugh as one of their favorite players of all time?

But then I remember how ridiculous sports are and how silly it is that we all find ourselves interested in activities that involve throwing, shooting and/or kicking balls past a line or into some variation of a goal. Yeah, that's silly, but I'm fascinated with the activities because I love sports.

I know Brown does, too. And what better way for him to show his love for football than to pay homage to Baugh – a player who helped build the game Brown plays today – by wearing his number at Ohio State? That's a pretty cool opportunity. I'm glad to see Brown using it to his advantage as he tells the story of football's past while having the chance to shape its future.

 FELDMAN'S COMBINE TAKEAWAYS. Go figure. After performing at the NFL Scouting Combine, the league's coaches, scouts and front-office executives have nothing but praise for C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

I touched on the love NFL personnel have for the Ohio State quarterback and wide receiver in recent Skull Sessions. However, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman introduced new analyses from those working in or familiar with the professional league about the former Buckeyes that deserve some attention in today's article.

From Feldman's article that included his takeaways from the NFL Combine:

On C.J. Stroud

C.J. Stroud isn’t the physical specimen of Anthony Richardson or Will Levis, but he still wowed folks in Indy. The 21-year-old from Ohio State threw for more than 8,000 yards in two seasons with an 85-to-12 TD-to-INT ratio, he torched the Georgia defense in his final college game, and he was razor sharp in his throwing session Saturday. Every throw looked smooth, effortless and natural. His deep ball was even more impressive than some NFL personnel folks expected.


This is a guy rival coaches have been raving about the past two years: “He’s the most accurate quarterback I’ve ever played against,” said one longtime college defensive coordinator who has faced a bunch of future top-10 draft picks. “It’s like he couldn’t have handed the ball to his receivers any better, and they’re 30, 40 yards downfield. He’s got high-level NFL accuracy and NFL vision. I think he understands the game so well and gets it out in under three seconds. He has a very high football IQ and really understands what you’re trying to do to him.”

On Jaxon Smith-Njigba

I’ll be stunned if Jaxon Smith-Njigba doesn’t have a bunch of 100-catch seasons in the NFL, and I think he’ll go higher than I’ve seen him on some early mock drafts. Of all the wonderful Ohio State receivers that have come out of Brian Hartline’s room in the past few years, rival coaches I spoke to thought he was the best prospect to this point. (Marvin Harrison Jr. will surpass them all next year, but he’s not draft eligible yet.)


Hartline, a former NFL receiver himself, wasn’t surprised at all. “Jax has a great feel of the game within the game, start there,” Hartline told The Athletic on Monday. “He knows how to use his body and how to win at the end of the play with whatever the job description is. There’s kind of a knack for that. Some guys just get it. As coaches we can try to enhance that, but from Day One, he always had that knack. There’s just something a little different for what Jax does.

“His change of direction is definitely the best that I’ve had. Garrett was pretty explosive. They all have their own niches, but when he changes direction out of a break, he doesn’t slow down. This game is really all about change of direction, and his is different, and I think it’ll be really hard for anybody to keep up with him when he changes direction because he is that elite at it, and that literally is the common denominator for creating separation in football.

“He’s kind of unguardable. He’ll be über-productive in the NFL. I think he will be a guy that leads the league in receptions and receiving yards. No one’s gonna be shocked. That’s just who he is, and he’s only gotten better, Like C.J. (Stroud) said, he’s the quarterback’s best friend.”

My takeaways of Feldman's takeaways:

  • C.J. Stroud "wowed folks in Indy" and Brian Hartline believes Jaxon Smith-Njigba is "kind of unguardable."
  • Stroud looked the part of an NFL quarterback on Saturday as he made every throw possible on the turf inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Meanwhile, JSN appeared to be as close to a sure thing as possible with his elite agility, body control and pass-catching.

Stroud and JSN are just so dang good, and they are gonna continue to prove that long after the combine as they have long and prosperous careers at the next level. Get used to seeing them on Ohio State's Developed Here graphics. They will almost certainly be coming sooner rather than later.

 A RECORD-BREAKING CLASS? Ohio State's number of representatives at the NFL Scouting Combine has taken a hit recently, dwindling from the days of the program's most recent national championship in 2014 to the 2023 class, save for a few one-off years.

That may come as a concern to some fans. But have no fear. As pointed out by Nathan Baird of and confirmed by my eyes with a quick look at Ohio State's roster, the Buckeyes could return to the combine in 2024 as the nation's most represented program. In fact, they may even break the record for the most attendees in a single year.

Here is a list of candidates to be at Lucas Oil Stadium next March:

  1.  Kyle McCord
  2.  Marvin Harrison Jr.
  3.  Emeka Egbuka
  4.  Julian Fleming
  5.  TreVeyon Henderson
  6.  Miyan Williams
  7.  Cade Stover
  8.  Donovan Jackson
  9.  Matt Jones
  10.  JT Tuimolau
  11.  Jack Sawyer
  12.  Mike Hall Jr.
  13.  Tyleik Williams
  14.  Tommy Eichenberg
  15.  Steele Chambers
  16.  Denzel Burke
  17.  Jordan Hancock
  18.  Lathan Ransom
  19.  Josh Proctor

That's... impressive.

According to Baird, the record number of invites for one team is believed to be LSU's 16 after its undefeated, national-championship-winning season with Joe Burrow in 2019. 

My list for Ohio State is at 19, and I left off some "second-tier players" – players I'm not sure about – like Cody Simon, Ja'Had Carter or even Evan Pryor. I also think Chip Trayanum could be a part of that shortlist, as he would crush the athleticism tests and has shown the versatility to play multiple positions on the football field.

While there's no guarantee all of the players mentioned above will head to the pros after next season, the Buckeyes may have as good a chance as anyone to take down the Tigers' record. Hopefully, Ohio State can do it, and hopefully – like LSU before them – it comes after an undefeated season with a national title.

 LIVIN' ON A PRAYER. Ohio State men's basketball currently has the fourth-worst odds of winning the Big Ten Tournament at +7400 as they look to shock the world with a tournament run for the ages. That historic run, should it actually happen and defy the odds in the process, starts with a matchup against Wisconsin on Wednesday.

Chris Holtmann understands his team would need to be near-perfect across the five days from Wednesday to Sunday to win the Big Ten Tournament championship. However, the Ohio State head coach thinks he, his staff and his players can't afford to look that far ahead. Instead, to hoist a trophy at the end of the weekend, Holtmann says the team needs to think one game at a time.

“As we all know, when it’s one and done, it’s all about how you play on that given night,” Holtmann said. “So the fact of the matter is we have played well in this closing stretch, but it’s all about how you play when you’re in a one-and-done situation on that given night. ... We'll need to have great preparation for whoever we play and continue to play in a way that we've played here the last couple of weeks and see where it goes from there."

As I said in Tuesday's Skull Session, I wouldn't put any money on Ohio State to win it all. Still, with the Buckeyes' talent and potential – which rarely showed itself this season, at least not until recently – Holtmann and his players may have what it takes to win a few games in Chicago. After all, the women's team taught me never to count out the Buckeyes. Maybe the men's team can do the same for me for the rest of this week.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Renegades" by X Ambassadors.

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