Welcome to the Skull Session.
Ohio State football's Twitter account provided an update for offensive lineman Avery Henry and his ongoing cancer treatment on Wednesday.
Our student-athlete Avery Henry wanted to give back to the James Cancer Hospital, where he himself had been receiving treatment.— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) May 10, 2023
His fellow o-line and QB joined him in spreading the message, DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT pic.twitter.com/j5ydN0qz9c
Keep fighting, Avery. Buckeye Nation is with you.
Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?
DRAFT PICKS = NATTIES? When the 2023 season starts, Ohio State will enter its ninth year since the program won the first-ever CFP national championship in 2015. However, according to CBS Sports' Josh Pate and his “science,” the clock will reset on Jan. 8, 2024, as he predicts Ryan Day and the Buckeyes will win it all this season.
Pate explained his claim on the most recent episode of The Late Kick:
"We already know who will have the most first-round draft picks and most overall draft picks, so why (should we) wait until January when I can tell you now that not only do we have a preeminent favorite to win the College Football Playoff national championship but we have an overwhelming favorite to win the 2023 national championship, and that is looking at the team that is slated to have the most first-round draft picks. Why do we care about that? Because the team with the most first-round draft picks over the last six years has won the title every year. Who will it be? Ohio State will win the national championship this year. The reason I say that is because the mock draft community is telling me.
"But I don't think you guys have the faith in Ohio State that science does. You are doubting science. Who among you thought it would come to this in early May but Ohio State – the mock draft community is telling you this – that Ohio State will win the title this year. Vegas has them with the fourth-best overall odds.
"What do we think about this? Do you think Ohio State is good enough at offensive tackle? Do you think Kyle McCord will go wire-to-wire as the starter? Will Devin Brown take over, or will Devin Brown win the job? We know they have the depth in the backfield. We know they have the hungriest coaching staff, probably in any sport in America, but especially college football. I am looking forward to this. I don't know what my prediction will be, but I expect very big things from the Buckeyes this year, and so does the science."
Yeah, Mr. White. Yeah, science. Ohio State will be the national champion in 2023. But that will happen only if the program's incredible assortment of talent performs at an elite level – one worthy of becoming first-round draft picks in 2024.
Whether or not Ohio State wins the title, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka feel like locks to be top-32 prospects next April. Could the same be said for JT Tuimoloau, Mike Hall Jr., Donovan Jackson and TreVeyon Henderson? I'm not so sure. But I am sure of this: An Ohio State national championship would indicate those players were at their best when it mattered most.
If Ohio State can shore up the offensive line, settle the quarterback competition and limit explosive plays defensively, Ryan Day and his team could be in for a magical season in Columbus, perhaps one that ends with Buckeyes possessing a College Football Playoff trophy when all is said and done.
JSN & SEATTLE, THE PERFECT FIT. When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Seahawks were on the clock with the No. 20 overall pick at the 2023 NFL draft, Seattle GM John Schneider was beside himself. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the player he had wanted since the NFL Combine and Ohio State's pro day, was still on the board.
I wasn't there (obviously), but I imagine Schneider turned to Pete Carroll to receive words of affirmation from his coach, whatever could be deciphered through Carroll's lip-smacking as he chewed on some Orginal Bubble Yum. He then picked up the office phone and called in the pick. And with that, Smith-Njigba was headed to the Pacific Northwest.
JSN. OSU. WRU. pic.twitter.com/Ze8XNzj6L6— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 28, 2023
According to Michael-Shawn Dugar, a Seahawks beat reporter for The Athletic, JSN was the “perfect fit“ for the Seahawks, who wanted a receiver that could divert a defense's attention away from fellow pass-catchers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and make life easier on quarterback Geno Smith, the 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
They wanted a slot receiver who understood zone coverage and how to feel underneath defenders and make himself available to the quarterback. They needed someone who was more quick than fast, but at the same time, crafty and explosive with the ball in his hands. Against man coverage, their preferred receiver needed to be proficient at the line of scrimmage and have a wide catch radius. He must also be a dependable blocker in the run game, which is still a key piece of the team’s identity.
Basically, the Seahawks were looking for Smith-Njigba.
Smith-Njigba is the perfect fit for Seattle’s offense. Which is why drafting him with the 20th pick — the highest Carroll and Schneider have ever taken a receiver in 14 drafts — was such a no-brainer. As its pick approached, Seattle did the leg work to be prepared to trade back if necessary, but those conversations ended when Smith-Njigba was still available.
“It was an easy decision just because he’s plug-and-play,” Schneider said on Seattle Sports radio after the draft. “With our situation, it totally made sense.”
In 2022, Seattle used 11 personnel on 52.8% of its plays, which ranked as the team's most popular offensive player grouping, Dugar reported via stats from TruMedia. That means Smith-Njigba should see a lot of playing time in his first season with the franchise – one that reached the NFL Wild Card at 9-8 before its eventual loss to the New York Giants last year.
Add to that offense Smith-Njigba, who compared himself to the Rams' Cooper Kupp and the Bills' Stefon Diggs during his Seattle Sports radio interview, and the team's potential to contend with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West and make some noise in the postseason only increases.
When one of the hosts closed the interview by asking whether he should draft Smith-Njigba on his fantasy football team, he replied, in part, “You want to win, right?” Smith-Njigba’s attitude and demeanor contribute to him being such a perfect piece to complement Lockett and Metcalf.
“Those guys can do it all, but you just add another weapon that can do it all, I think it’s going to be dangerous,” Smith-Njigba said. “Geno back there slinging it, the potential is crazy. The potential is crazy, and I love playing with great players. I’m blessed to be a Seahawk, and I’m blessed to play in that stadium in front of those fans. We’re gonna light it up for sure.”
Could an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season be #Loading... for JSN?
UNCLE SNOOP DOGG. Before the Houston Texans selected C.J. Stroud with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Inland Empire, California, native visited the home of an American pop culture icon, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known by his rapper stage name Snoop Dogg (and briefly Snoop Lion).
Stroud's visit to Snoop Dogg's estate was not due to his status as a record-breaking Ohio State quarterback, two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year award winner and two-time Heisman finalist. Instead, it was to spend time with an old friend who is more like a family member to Stroud, as their relationship started when Stroud was playing youth football in Southern California.
That relationship was detailed in a recent release of Overtime's “Draft House” series. The episode featured Stroud and several future NFL stars taking a break from the pre-draft process to stop by Snoop Dogg's home.
"Snoop Dogg, he's more like an uncle to me. He's not really, like, Snoop Dogg the big-time rapper or big-time artist, producer and actor. He's not all that to me. He's just 'Unc.' Growing up, you see celebrities on TV but you're not able to (see or) touch them in person and Snoop definitely was a person where you can kind of reach out to him and he'll definitely show love. I'll never forget I threw a good pass in an All-Star game. When we walked off the field, he was like, 'Good throw, nephew.' I remember that gave me a lot of inspiration and it really gave me a lot of inspiration and confidence to be able to maybe make (football) a career one day."
Each time I see Stroud play basketball, I am surprised by how sound his fundamentals are. The dude could hoop back in high school, and his game could still hold up today against good competition – better competition than the matadors he faced in this video, at least.
After what we saw from Ohio State men's basketball this past season, did we need to take Stroud's claim that the football team would be them more seriously? People have said this more and more.
OLYMPIC VILLAGE. Speaking of basketball players with sound fundamentals, Ohio State women's basketball star Cotie McMahon fits that bill. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year made headlines on Tuesday when she was invited to attend the 2023 USA Basketball U19 team trials this weekend.
Cotie McMahon (@cotiemcmahon23) has been invited to participate at the 2023 USA Basketball U19 team trials beginning May 12! #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/gzi8sZfPq6— Ohio State WBB (@OhioStateWBB) May 9, 2023
McMahon is no stranger to the national stage, as the Centerville, Ohio, native played for the United States U18 team at the 2022 FIBA Women's Americas Championship. There, McMahon helped lead her team to a gold medal with a 22-point effort against Canada in the finals. She averaged 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest at the event, earning all-tournament team honors after it concluded.
That performance put McMahon on the map before her freshman season at Ohio State, which was as good if not better than anyone could have asked for from a first-year player. McMahon collected 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game for the Buckeyes, and she also shot an impressive 51% from the floor.
Similarly to how McMahon carried momentum from the FIBA tournament into her time with the Buckeyes in 2022-23, she will look to keep the ball rolling internationally as a member of the United States squad. If she can, McMahon will likely have a second gold medal to add to her trophy case before her return to Columbus this fall.
SONG OF THE DAY. “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf.
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