Ohio State is on spring break this week.
Kind of makes me wish I was on spring break this week. Alas, it's time to keep working. Caffeinate and dominate, everyone.
spring break mood pic.twitter.com/QWIlopaFN8— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 13, 2023
Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?
YEAH, THAT'LL DO (MAYBE?). Trey Wingo broke the internet on Monday, if only briefly. Why is that? Because the former ESPN television and radio host and current podcast host of Trey Wingo Presents announced a trade between the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets involving Aaron Rodgers was "done."
Hearing Rodgers to the Jets is done. History about to repeat itself between New York and Green Bay. Time is indeed a flat circle— trey wingo (@wingoz) March 13, 2023
That's huge news.
However, it was immediately disputed by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who said on a live broadcast of NFL Total Access that "nothing has happened" regarding a deal between the Packers and Jets for the Super Bowl champion quarterback and four-time NFL MVP.
I wish it did. I wish something had happened. But nothing has happened. https://t.co/VqlmRbonxa— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2023
While the deal is not official (yet?), former Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson immediately rushed to Twitter upon hearing of Wingo's report that Rodgers had been traded to the Jets. It's clear that he would be in favor of having a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him the football in the Big Apple. And honestly, who wouldn't?
I can finally enjoy my vacay now.— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) March 13, 2023
Yall shud see this smile on me rn— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) March 13, 2023
Wilson later clarified he does not yet know whether Rodgers will actually become a Jet, though, and that he had simply seen the rumor on Twitter like everyone else.
I aint gon fake it, I thought Dov bro tweet was the news break I was waiting for smh. Idk anything. Sorry ab that.— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) March 14, 2023
Wilson won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for catching 83 passes on 139 targets for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with New York. He did that with the likes of Zach Wilson – yes, the quarterback drafted nine spots ahead of Justin Fields – Joe Flacco and Mike White under center.
Imagine what Wilson's stats would look like with Rodgers, who has a career completion percentage of 65.3% and has collected over 59,000 passing yards and 475 touchdowns to only 105 interceptions from 2005-22.
Yeah, I would like to see that.
For Wilson's sake, I hope it happens, and by all accounts, it looks likely that it will. We just need to wait patiently until the deal becomes officially official.
BRUCE THORNTON, EVERYONE. As the 2022-23 season wound down for Ohio State men's basketball, head coach Chris Holtmann needed consistent production from somebody... anybody... to help the Buckeyes climb out of the deep, dark pit they found themselves in after losing 14 of 15 games in January and February.
Like Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," Bruce Thornton – metaphorically speaking – saw the light from the bottom of Ohio State's pit, scaled the wall and reached the top as Holtmann and his staff chanted "Rise." And as all good point guards should do, he tossed the rope down and led his team out of the darkness.
No, but in all seriousness, the Buckeyes’ late-season improvement was primarily due to Thornton's efforts in the stretch run. His performances between Ohio State's loss to Michigan and the team's final loss to Purdue deserve plenty of praise, as the Alpharetta, Georgia, native slowly but surely pushed through the freshman wall to become what looked like a seasoned vet by the season's end.
In that stretch, Thornton started in all 13 games for Ohio State and averaged 14.5 points on 51.4% shooting, including a 36.7% clip from deep, in those contests. He also added 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game as the Buckeyes amassed a 5-8 record.
At the Big Ten Tournament, Thorton was one of the primary sources of offense for Ohio State – if not the primary source of offense – along with Justice Sueing, Brice Sensabaugh and, in the final two games, Roddy Gayle.
The future, it's so bright.— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 12, 2023
Watch Bruce Thornton's #B1GMBBT highlight reel .@Bruce2T_ x @OhioStateHoops pic.twitter.com/bQW7g6aCan
Thorton's statistical averages increased to 15.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest as he led the No. 13-seeded Buckeyes to an improbable 3-1 record and helped the program become the lowest seed ever to reach the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament. Thorton earned a spot on the Big Ten's All-Tournament team for his efforts.
As Ohio State on BTN stated in the tweet above, the future looks bright in Columbus. That is thanks to Bruce Thornton, whose decision to push through adversity and overcome hardship in his first season has created unexpected optimism around the Ohio State program despite having one of its worst seasons in recent memory.
@Bruce2T_ on this upcoming summer and what hell take away from this season.#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/dvgehiXdTH— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) March 12, 2023
I, for one, am excited to see where Thornton takes the Buckeyes. If Gayle, Felix Okpara and incoming pieces Taison Chatman, Scotty Middleton, Devin Royal and Austin Parks can develop similarly – hopefully, sooner than late February, of course – Ohio State could be in for a much better season in 2023-24.
MIYAN WILLIAMS IS LIMITLESS. Over the past three years, Miyan Williams has become a fan-favorite player at Ohio State. His hard-nosed, downhill-run style resonates well with those in Buckeye Nation.
On Monday, a NIL agency called Limitless announced a partnership with Williams ahead of his fourth season with the Buckeyes. Limitless is a pretty fitting name for Williams, as he has consistently exceeded expectations at Ohio State. Whenever a wall stands before him, he runs through the barrier at full speed.
Lets work, @Miyannnn3— Limitless NIL (@limitlessnil) March 13, 2023
| #forathletesbyathletes pic.twitter.com/15cUOMBVQo
Coming off a career year at Ohio State in which he collected 825 yards and 14 touchdowns, there was a chance Williams may have departed for the NFL after 2022. However, he decided to stick around for another season in Columbus, which could mean one last ride for the Cincinnati native in a scarlet and gray uniform. That said, having NIL representation makes sense for the former three-star.
From Pete Nakos of On3:
“We had a lot of respect for him for a long time,” Limitless director of recruiting Aeneas Hawkins told On3. “Reached out to him recently and found some synergy, some space in which we thought we could help him with his NIL experience while he wrapped up his college career. Definitely excited to have him on board.”
Launched by former Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford this past April, Limitless has expanded from just three athletes to nearly 50 and growing. Clifford and multiple employees of the agency are from Cincinnati, just like Williams. The common ground made for an easy connection between the two parties.
Clifford sold Limitless NIL to TEAM Group Holdings in February, but he and his partners are still running the day-to-day operations. The current Limitless NIL roster includes a handful of Penn State players. Former Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison also worked with the group.
Nakos also wrote that Williams' deal with Limitless will primarily focus on expanding his personal brand, including a clothing line called "Never Been Regular" that Williams launched in October. Williams will also have access to financial advisers at Beacon Pointe, a financial advisory firm.
“There’s a good combination of factors going for him,” Hawkins said. “He’s one of the better running backs in college football, one of the best. And he’s playing for one of the best teams in college football. He’s a guy who’s performed at a high level on the biggest stages that college football has to offer. So, yeah, absolutely, we think he’s more marketable than the standard college football player. ... But, you know, he’s also a great dude. He’s a great ambassador for the university, so felt like it was a no-brainer.”
Off the heels of a perfect NIL deal between Marvin Harrison Jr. and Monarc Sport to promote Monarc's Seeker pass-catching machine, Williams' deal with Limitless continues a hot streak for name, image and likeness opportunities for Ohio State's players. For fans of the football program, that should be as encouraging a sign as any for retaining talented players and recruiting high school prospects in the future.
Hopefully, Ohio State's players, the NIL divisions within the athletic department and the collectives can keep the ball rolling like this in the future.
ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT FOR JSN. Earlier this month, former NFL All-Pro and Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. endorsed Jaxon Smith-Njigba as the No. 1 pass-catcher in the 2023 draft. He claimed JSN's body control and football IQ as the primary reasons coaches and executives will love the Ohio State product.
Last week, another NFL Pro Bowler added his seal of approval for Smith-Njigba, doubling down on what Smith said about his body control and football IQ and adding that his speed – the primary question NFL personnel have about JSN – isn't as significant a factor as some make it out to be.
.@GregJennings' WR1 for the 2023 Draft: JSN— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) March 9, 2023
A film based-breakdown of why he believes @jaxon_smith1 "just has it." pic.twitter.com/8s22MfLgD3
"He is my number one receiver... It's Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Period, point blank. There's nothing he can't do in an NFL game right now if you put him on the field. I know he thrives in the slot, but I believe he can be successful on the outside as well. His space and where he operates best is in the middle of the field, and he does it better than a lot of guys that are in the NFL, even now at this stage of his young career that has not even started. This kid just has it. If you can have the game slow down because of your smart, your savvy, your understanding of what it is that you are expecting defenses to do and you are able to adjust, his speed doesn't matter. He never changes or shifts gears. When you understand what defenses are going to do, (you) don't need to be the fastest. I just have to know how to get open. He does that better than anyone in this draft."
"The kid just has it."
I like that way of describing a talent like Jaxon Smith-Njigba. It honestly works for many of the NFL players Ohio State has produced over the last decade and change. Players like Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Denzel Ward, Chase Young, Justin Fields, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, among many, many others, all had "it," and many still have "it" even to this day.
When the NFL draft starts on April 27, I expect C.J. Stroud, who also has "it," to be one of the first players drafted, perhaps even with the No. 1 overall pick. While I wouldn't expect Smith-Njigba to be taken that high, I don't think he'll be waiting for very long. If he is, the team that has him fall into their lap will be a very lucky franchise for years to come.
SONG OF THE DAY. "Empire State of Mind" by JAY-Z ft. Alicia Keys.
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