Skull Session: Marvin Harrison Jr. "Appears to Be From a Different Galaxy," Tanner McCalister Improves His Draft Stock and JSN Silences His Doubters

By Chase Brown on March 23, 2023 at 5:00 am
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch

And just like that, Ohio State's pro day is behind us.

Time flies.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 YES, I BELIEVE I HAD THAT. In Wednesday's Skull Session, I wrote that NFL scouts would salivate, drool and maybe even bark over Marvin Harrison Jr. in the throwing session at Ohio State's pro day. And, yeah, that's pretty much what happened at the Woody (aside from the barking, to my knowledge).

Despite what I'm sure was their best intentions to maintain focus on C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba – the players who will actually be available in the 2023 NFL draft – scouts were drawn toward Harrison like moths to a flame. They couldn't help but look when a 6-foot-4, 205-pound wide receiver with Hall of Fame genes started running routes.

Honestly, I don't blame them. Harrison was fantastic in the session, as were Stroud and JSN. The thing is, NFL evaluators have repeatedly studied tape for the latter two players for the past few months, so Harrison's athleticism, pass-catching ability and other elite traits were a breath of fresh air for the (likely) sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled scouts, coaches and front-office managers.

Harrison looked like a future first-round pick for Ohio State last season. With his performance at the Woody on Wednesday, the likelihood that he eventually becomes one feels all but guaranteed. If Harrison maintains that same trajectory for all of 2023, he may even be off the board within the first 10 picks. First five picks? First pick? With a player like him, the sky is the limit.

 TANNER McCALISTER, EVERYONE. When Tanner McCalister arrived in Columbus, he was touted as a mindful, smart player that would translate the Mad Scientist's verbatim to his new Ohio State teammates. As far as I can tell, he did that, and he did that well. But there ended up being more than met the eye with McCalister.

In 2022, McCalister was one of the most solid players in Ohio State's secondary. His 510 snaps ranked third among safeties and fourth among defensive backs behind Ronnie Hickman (760), Lathan Ransom (613) and Denzel Burke (582). He used those opportunities to collect 24 tackles, three interceptions and one pass breakup, which was this beautiful play against Wisconsin.

By season's end, McCalister was one of the most dependable players in Ohio State's defense, a steadfast anchor in Jim Knowles' "safety-driven" scheme. His presence will undoubtedly be missed as the Buckeyes suit up for action in 2023.

Across five college seasons – four at Oklahoma State and one at Ohio State – McCalister collected 148 tackles, 13 pass breakups and four interceptions. Those are respectable stats, but they weren't enough to put him on the NFL's radar – not enough for him to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, at least. But after seeing his numbers at Ohio State's pro day, perhaps he should have been in Indianapolis earlier this month.

McCalister also shined in non-measurable workouts. He had quick feet, soft hands and fantastic spatial awareness. He impressed me from start to finish. I'm sure many of the 118 NFL representatives felt the same.

Overall, it was an excellent day for McCalister as he did wonders to boost his draft stock in front of a large contingent of professional personnel. Hopefully, he improved it enough to hear his name called at the NFL draft in April. That would be quite the achievement for a former three-star recruit from Rockwall, Texas.

 SCOUTS SHOULD DOUBT THEIR DOUBTS. Jaxon Smith-Njigba ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds at Ohio State's pro day, a number that should eliminate any doubt about whether he will be a fantastic receiver in the NFL.

Eddy Son, Giaminh Nguyen and Ryan Clancy finished in second place in their respective divisions and earned automatic bids to the NCBA Nationals, while Eddie Kubit took third place and received a wild card bid to the tournament. As a school, Ohio State notched wins over Navy, West Virginia and UNC. The Buckeyes also had close, split-decision losses to Navy and Cincinnati.

NCBA Nationals will be held from April 13-15 at Le Meridien Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, which means Ohio State will travel south for the tournament in the coming weeks.

As a club sport, Ohio State's team requires self-funding for travel and coaching expenses, so the program started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise money for the trip. Please consider donating so Son, Nguyen, Clancy and Kubit can compete at the highest level of their sport and make Buckeye Nation proud. I know it would mean a lot to them.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti.

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