Everybody loves a good highlight video of the NFL Combine, especially when there are Buckeyes involved.
March 8, 2023
Also, how ‘bout them Basketbucks? Survive and advance, baby.
Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?
“WE'RE HOPING HE CAN MAKE AN IMPACT.” I've always been a Mitchell Melton truther. Ever since he arrived on campus in 2020, I've considered him a player with incredible potential, with all the tools necessary to be a key contributor on a Big Ten championship and national championship-winning Ohio State roster.
Unfortunately, due to various ailments, Melton has spent most of his college career on the sidelines. This reality has kept him from reaching that potential during his three seasons in Columbus. Melton's most recent injury was a torn ACL in last year's spring game, which has kept him off the field since last April.
On Feb. 1, Ryan Day announced that Melton would be one of several Buckeyes who would miss all of Ohio State's spring practices as they recovered from injuries. However, Melton was seen participating in drills during the program's first spring practice on Tuesday, a surprise development that excited Day as much as it did me.
“He’s been cleared for individual drills, but we’re going to kind of hold him to that for the majority of the spring, if not all the spring,” Day said after the practice. “We’ll kind of see how that goes.”
Day later explained how much he looked forward to seeing Melton on the path toward recovery. With continued progress in the right direction, the head coach believes Melton could be a diamond in the rough of Larry Johnson's defensive line room.
“We’re hoping he can make an impact for us this year,” Day said. “Before the injury (last spring), we were excited about him and what he was doing. He has really good pass-rush ability – really good strength and play speed. We’ve just got to be smart and make sure we’re bringing him back the right way.”
Although the words “he can make an impact for us” stand out the most in that second quote, Day's description of Melton being a player with “good pass-rush ability” also makes my ears perk.
Despite Jim Knowles' defense being “safety-driven,” his scheme is largely predicated on the defensive line reaching the quarterback. If Melton can do that consistently, he needs to be on the field. It may not translate all that well, but Melton's last full football season came as a high school senior. That year, he recorded 97 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and a team-record 20 sacks.
Hopefully, Melton can produce a similar kind of production relative to the Big Ten and Power Five competition Ohio State regularly faces at the collegiate level. Before we talk about that, though, let's see him stay healthy. Then we can talk about the big picture, one that sees him making an impact for the Buckeyes in 2023.
JSN'S MOUNT RUSHMORE. There's a reason Ohio State is known as Wide Receiver U. It's the kind of title a program earns when players like Cris Carter, Joey Galloway, David Boston, Terry Glenn, Ted Ginn Jr., Terry McLaurin, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave all donned the scarlet and gray before their careers in the pros.
I know I missed some names – maybe even your favorite Ohio State receiver ever – but the players I listed were the first that came to mind, and if I continued with that list, I would run out of room in the Skull Session. That's how much depth there is in the Buckeyes' all-time wide receiver room.
That all-time depth makes for an interesting discussion regarding a Mount Rushmore of Ohio State wide receivers. Which Buckeye pass-catcher would you immortalize with a carved rock of their face?
While you ponder that answer, I'll explain that Jaxon Smith-Njigba was asked to do the same at the NFL Scouting Combine over the weekend. His answer was certainly... an answer. It's not bad – just a little modern. Have a look and listen:
JSNs Mount Rushmore of Ohio State WRs pic.twitter.com/WZaE3Ma4in— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) March 8, 2023
JSN picked Wilson, Olave, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Brian Hartline as his Mount Rushmore and added another head on the monument to put himself on there, too. As I said, it's not bad. But outside of Hartline, the other four receivers had their best seasons as Buckeyes in the third decade of the 21st century.
I believe a Mount Rushmore of Ohio State receivers would be much better served with some diversity across the different eras of Buckeye football. Therefore, I have Carter, Boston, Ginn and Olave as mine. Feel free to dispute my choices as you please.
GREG ODEN'S SEARCH FOR PURPOSE. In the eloquent words of The Ringer's Mirin Fader, “basketball gave Greg Oden everything” but then “took it all away.” After that, nobody would have blamed Oden if he had walked away from basketball – if he had taken his ball and gone home – but that's not who he is. That's not who the sport made him to be.
A two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana, a second-team All-American at Ohio State and a No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, basketball has always been a part of Oden's identity. Without it, he's not quite sure who he'd be.
That's why when former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta asked the 7-foot big man to be his director of operations at Butler, Oden quickly accepted, knowing it would be a chance to return home to Indianapolis and remember why he fell in love with basketball in the first place. As his first year with the Bulldogs ends, that seems to be exactly what he's done.
After being selected no. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA draft over Kevin Durant, [Oden] suffered debilitating knee injuries that prevented him from living up to the Herculean expectations set for him. For years, he carried a burden so heavy it nearly crushed him. Cruel, dehumanizing comments have followed him since: namely that he’s the biggest bust in NBA history.
That narrative, that four-letter word, haunted him for a long time. It hurt to hear. It hurt to explain. But that word doesn’t capture the spirit of his struggle, his journey, his resilience, his joy, and, most importantly, where his path has taken him today: He’s finding new purpose as a coach. He’s wrapping up his first season as Butler’s director of basketball operations. And he’s doing it alongside his former Ohio State coach, Thad Matta, who is now at the helm of Butler’s program: a man who never gave up on Oden, even when many did.
Oden could have given up basketball. He could have gotten a regular job that had nothing to do with the game. But that peach-dotted leather ball kept tugging at him, kept reminding him of the deepest love he’s ever known, even as it tried to break his heart again and again. Because as long as he can remember, basketball wasn’t just something he did. It was him.
In a way, he’s a rookie all over again, paying his dues. Admittedly, with slightly less pressure and in more anonymity. Without the cameras, without the hype, he is left with the untarnished love he has had for basketball since he was a kid, scoring his first bucket by grabbing the opponent’s rebound out of the air and putting it right back up in their basket.
I highly recommend everyone read Fader's entire article on Oden, as Fader details his work at Butler, what Matta thinks of him, his best basketball games as a high school player in Indiana, his time in the NBA and at Ohio State – both as a player and a coach – and several other topics.
I hope Oden continues to rediscover himself at Butler. I hope he continues to fall back in love with basketball, away from the lights and the attention. I hope one day we hear about Oden's continued success. That would be pretty cool. I think I would like that very much.
MTV, WELCOME TO MY CRIB. A few weeks back, I included a video of Ohio State lacrosse player Mitchell Pehlke touring several facilities on campus, from the Covelli Center to the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
Today, we revisit Pehlke's YouTube channel for a different purpose: To watch Pehlke tour the houses of Ohio State football players, including the house of Cade Stover, Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg and other spots.
I laughed out loud multiple times during this video:
- When Stover said he was offered a ham by a person driving a van who claimed they "couldn't get rid of all these hams," so – naturally – he took the ham. Smart move.
- When Stover said he bought a riding lawnmower that doesn't start without jumper cables and Chambers added that in the summer he and Stover trade shifts cutting the grass. That's cute.
- When Chambers said he has a Squishmallow named Loretta before pulling out a sword he can't play with anymore because he always hurts himself. Also, that he has a "cool sailor outfit." And finally, that he willingly points out a "China hat" that sits on the ground in his room. When Pehlke asks, "Where did you get that?" Chambers quickly responds, "I found it." That's it.
- When Chambers described Bryson Shaw as a "ball of sweaty fury."
- When Jack Sawyer said he can't eat much food before a morning workout but then says he eats *eight eggs* before those workouts. Like, what would be a lot of food, brother?
The whole video is really fun. Cheers to Pehlke for showing Ohio State fans the places where some of their favorite players live – that's pretty cool. Check it out.
SONG OF THE DAY. "Our House" by Madness.
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