Skull Session: Ohio State Creates BTS Video of C.J. Stroud's Pro Day, Kamryn Babb to Join the Buckeyes' NextGen Program and Keita Bates-Diop Wins an NBA Community Assist Award

By Chase Brown on March 31, 2023 at 5:00 am
C.J. Stroud
Adam Cairns / Columbus Dispatch

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Happy Trey Sermon Day (3/31) to all who celebrate.

Let's have a good Friday, shall we?

 A LITTLE BEHIND-THE-SCENES ACTION. The Ohio State football media team released a video on Wednesday that featured behind-the-scenes footage of C.J. Stroud's pro day last week. And let me be the first to say that it's well worth the watch:

Since this was a behind-the-scenes pro day video for Stroud, I expected to see clips of him warming up inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, maybe some conversations with a few players and then, of course, footage from his performance in the throwing session with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and others.

However, I did not expect the video to include interviews with Stroud's mother, Kimberly, and sister, Ciara. What a fine addition to the behind-the-scenes from the Ohio State media team, as their tender comments were a perfect lead-in to what Day said about his star quarterback from the past two seasons.

Here are the full comments from Kimberly, Ciara and Day:

Kimberly Stroud

"It's been amazing, this whole process. But I'm so excited. I had to fight back tears and the nerves of it all. C.J. has worked so hard – just to see it all go full circle and evolve, you know. It was such a great performance by him, showing how solid he is, not just as a player but his decision-making and footwork. He looks so amazing. It's been a great, exciting day for sure."

Ciara Stroud

"I know C.J. was born for this. This is nothing new or surprising to me because I feel like this is his step and where he was meant to be. I am just so proud."

Ryan Day

"C.J. was awesome. It was probably as good of a workout as I think I've seen, not only when I was coaching but now just to have been here. We've had a bunch of guys go through this process, and this is as good as I've seen. The ball came out of his hand. He was accurate down the field. I thought the ball had pace on it. ... When you come to be the quarterback at Ohio State, it is almost like a test to see how you can handle the NFL. If you can handle being the quarterback at Ohio State, then you can handle being in the NFL, and I think he's passed all of those tests and will continue to do that."

Ohio State, NFL combine, pro day. Next stop? The 2023 NFL draft, where Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV could become the first No. 1 overall pick for the Buckeyes since Orlando Pace in 1997. With the Carolina Panthers in possession of that pick, I like Stroud's odds.

Time to make history.

 BABB'S NEXT STEPS. Ohio State athletics and the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute have developed the "NextGen" program designed to prepare student-athletes for a career within athletics at colleges and universities nationwide.

This year's student-athletes are headlined by the incredible Kamryn Babb, who agreed to a role within the Ohio State athletic department a few weeks after the 2022 football season ended. With his involvement now officially official, the leadership institute announced Babb will participate in the full-time, paid opportunity within NextGen.

According to Ohio State's press release, the NextGen Program is a structured, rotational development program created to provide experience and skill development necessary to position student-athletes to succeed in a career within intercollegiate athletics. Student-athletes will perform two six-month rotations, followed by one 12-month rotation across various units within the department of athletics.

“We are excited to launch the NextGen program through the Leadership Institute,” senior associate athletics director Carey Hoyt said. “This program will be the first of its kind created for student-athletes who want to work in college athletics. The program will expose graduates to the various units that make up the department of athletics. As positions open in the department, our NextGen Buckeyes will be uniquely positioned to transition into a permanent, full-time role at Ohio State. We are looking forward to providing these opportunities for our student-athletes and creating a pipeline of talented individuals who truly understand what it means to be a Buckeye.”

Babb will be accompanied by six other Buckeyes in the NextGen program: Marcus Ernst (baseball), Elexis Edwards (women's gymnastics), Brooke Shields (cheerleading), Ashley Turner (women's lacrosse) and Katleen Jones and Lucia Marzal Martinez (women's tennis).

A top-100 recruit in the class of 2018, Babb used to believe football would be his life-long career. But after suffering multiple torn ACLs at Ohio State, that door closed following five seasons with the Buckeyes, leading the St. Louis, Missouri, native to search for new passions, which led him to the NextGen program.

“I chose the NextGen program because I felt like it would help me transition from being a student-athlete to the professional world,” Babb said. “I never really knew what I wanted to pursue after football and I’m still searching for the passions I want to pursue. I believe this program will give me, and the rest of my cohort, an opportunity to explore different jobs within the athletics department.”

“I want to thank Gene Smith for creating this opportunity because it’s a testimony to what it means to be a Buckeye. ... So many great people poured into me during my time as a student-athlete and now I get to give back to this great university in the same way through the NextGen Program. Getting an opportunity to grow off the field, right here in the athletics department, is what makes Ohio State a special place.”

This rocks.

Babb has always been one of my favorite Buckeyes. His on-field production was minimal – one reception for 8 yards and one memorable touchdown – but his impact on the Ohio State football program was (and still is) incalculable.

With the way Babb carries himself, I don't doubt that he will have the same impact on those he works with in the NextGen program over the next two years. I wish him the best of luck.

 KEITA BATES-DIOP, EVERYONE. This week, San Antonio Spurs forward and former Ohio State men's basketball standout Keita Bates-Diop was named the February recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award as he has continued to raise awareness of the importance of CPR and AED training in San Antonio communities.

To see Buckeyes like Bates-Diop give back to their communities and proudly represent Ohio State warms my heart. Cameron Heyward, Sam Hubbard and Terry McLaurin are other Buckeyes that come to mind who excel in this in the NFL, and I'm sure there are many more that I have left off that shortlist.

Cheers to Keita for helping others develop an awareness of CPR and AED skills. May he continue to advocate for that in San Antonio or wherever basketball may take him. No matter where he ends up, he's making Buckeye Nation proud.

 COTIE MCMAHON → STAR POWER? Ohio State women's basketball made a run to the Elite Eight at the 2023 NCAA Tournament, knocking off James Madison, North Carolina and UConn on their way to the finals of the Seattle Regional. The Buckeyes accomplished that feat with the combined efforts of Taylor Mikesell, Jacy Sheldon, Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon.

However, the fourth name mentioned arguably stood out the most of any Buckeye. The 2023 Big Ten Freshman of the Year averaged 18.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in Ohio State's four contests. She also scored 23 points in her team's 73-61 win over the Huskies, which kept Geno Auriemma from advancing to its 17th consecutive Elite Eight and 14th consecutive Final Four.

That's impressive.

When The Athletic anonymously polled women's college basketball players at the Seattle and Greenville Super Regionals, "If you could add one player (of any at the Super Regional) to your current team, who would you pick?" Three of those women undoubtedly had that production in mind, as they selected McMahon over talents like South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Iowa's Caitlin Clark and UConn's Paige Bueckers.

Keep in mind, those three players I mentioned were the previous three AP National Player of the Year honorees, with Bueckers winning in 2021, Boston in 2022 and Clark in 2023.

With McMahon on the Buckeyes, Ohio State women's basketball is in for a very, very, very... very, very, very... bright future.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "It's Not All About You" by Lawrence.

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