Skull Session: Four Buckeyes Appear in ESPN’s Top 80 Quarterbacks of the 2000s, Sam Petitto “Brings A Lot of Experience” to Ohio State and K.J. Hill Joins the CFL

By Chase Brown on February 28, 2024 at 5:00 am
C.J. Stroud
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

This video is fun:

Have a good Wednesday.

 OHIO STATE LEGENDS. Ohio State football has had some excellent quarterbacks since 2000: Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman, Terelle Pryor, Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud – 10 names that Dan Hope, Matt Gutridge and you, the people, ranked in January 2023 based on their college careers.

This week, Bill Connelly of ESPN ranked Smith, Barrett, Fields and Stroud on a national scale, naming the four Buckeyes among college football’s top 80 quarterbacks of the 2000s with a top five of Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Cam Newton (Auburn), Vince Young (Texas), Tim Tebow (Florida) and Joe Burrow (LSU).

Here is where Connelly ranked them and what he said about their Ohio State careers:

No. 70 J.T. Barrett

Years: 2014-17
Stats: 9,434 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 104 TD, 30 INT, 3,263 rushing yards, 43 rushing TD

He broke the Big Ten record for most passing TDs and total TDs, won 38 games in 3.5 seasons as a starter, and, perhaps most importantly, went 4-0 against Michigan.

Names around Barrett: No. 73 David Greene (Georgia), No. 72 Brad Smith (Missouri), No. 71 AJ McCarron (Alabama), No. 69 Kevin Kolb (Houston), No. 68 Andy Dalton (TCU) and No. 67 Zach Wilson (BYU)

No. 37 - Troy Smith

Years: 2003-06
Stats: 5,720 passing yards, 63% completion rate, 54 TD, 13 INT, 1,168 rushing yards, 14 rushing TD

Ohio State went wire-to-wire in the 2006 regular season, and while Smith wasn't asked to do much in blowouts, he came through big-time when required and won the Heisman by more than 1,600 points. Of course, this would have all mattered more had Smith and the Buckeyes not gotten absolutely humiliated by Florida in the national title game. That'll knock down your ranking a bit.

Names around Smith: No. 40 Ken Dorsey (Miami), No. 39 Chase Daniel (Missouri), No. 38 Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), No. 36 Jason White (Oklahoma), No. 35 Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) and Rex Grossman (Florida)

No. 32 Justin Fields

Years: 2018-20
Stats: 5,701 passing yards, 68% completion rate, 67 TD, 9 INT, 1,133 rushing yards, 19 TD

Thanks to the abbreviated 2020 season, Fields was a collegiate starter for basically 1.5 years. But in that time he proved startlingly accurate and dynamic, leading Ohio State to two CFP bids, one national title game and only two losses.

Names around Fields: No. 35 Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), No. 34 Rex Grossman (Florida), No. 33 Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), No. 31 Ben Roethlisberger (Miami Ohio), No. 30 Pat White (West Virginia) and No. 29 Russell Wilson (NC State/Wisconsin)

No. 21 C.J. Stroud

Years: 2020-22
Stats: 8,123 passing yards, 69% completion rate, 85 TD, 12 INT, 1 rushing TD

He didn't have the longest career, but in 25 career games he topped 300 yards 15 times, topped 400 yards five times, completed at least 70% of his passes 10 times and threw multiple INTs just twice. And he was the best player on the field in his final game, a CFP near upset of Georgia.

Names around Stroud: No. 24 Philip Rivers (NC State), No. 23 Caleb Williams (USC), No. 22 Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), No. 20 Bryce Young (Alabama), No. 19 Jayden Daniels (LSU) and No. 18 Andrew Luck (Stanford)

While I am pleased that Connelly ranked Barrett, Smith, Fields and Stroud in his top 80, I wonder if Connelly would have Miller or Haskins featured on the list if it were extended to 100 or more. If so, where would he have them?

Connelly ranked Denard Robinson of Michigan at No. 54, but Miller is nowhere to be found. In four seasons as the Wolverines’ quarterback, he recorded 6,250 yards, 49 touchdowns and 39 interceptions as a passer with 4,495 yards and 42 scores as a runner. Meanwhile, Miller recorded 5,295 yards, 52 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as a passer with 3,315 yards and 33 scores as a runner in his three seasons as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. What gives, Bill?

As for Haskins, he completed 70% of his passes for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his lone season as Ohio State’s starter in 2018. Those incredible numbers – and Ohio State’s 13-1 record in that season – make Haskins a top-80 quarterback since 2000 without question. What gives, Bill?

Apart from those two misses, Connelly made a solid list.

As Ryan Day and Chip Kelly get Ohio State’s quarterback position back on track in 2024 and beyond, we should see more Buckeye signal-callers on these types of rankings in the future. I look forward to seeing their names when they arrive.

 “SAM BRINGS A LOT OF EXPERIENCE.” After Nick Saban retired, Ohio State plucked offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin, safety Caleb Downs and quarterback Julian Sayin from Alabama’s roster.

Over the weekend, the Buckeyes returned to the Tuscaloosa Well – this time, however, their visit involved inquiring services from Sam Petitto, the Crimson Tide’s former director of player personnel and director of recruiting.

Petitto worked under Saban for eight seasons. In that time, Alabama ranked at or near the top of the national recruiting rankings each year. When Saban announced he would move on from the program, athletic director Greg Byrne hired former Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer as the Crimson Tide’s next leader. DeBoer did not retrain Petitto.

The unexpected development led Ryan Day and Mark Pantoni to add Petitto to Ohio State’s staff as director of player personnel, a position Marc Votteler left vacant after he accepted a similar role at Mississippi State.

“I have known of him for a long time,” Pantoni told Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. “Obviously, he had a very good reputation from the people I knew at Alabama and Georgia, where he worked previously. When we had an opening, I reached out to him because I knew he hadn’t been retained at Alabama with the new staff. The timing worked great. He was looking, we were looking, and it worked out.”

Pantoni said Pettito’s responsibilities will include high-school film evaluation, building relationships with recruits and their families and day-to-day operations of Ohio State’s recruiting room and its staff members.

“I’m very excited,” Pantoni said. “Sam brings a lot of experience. He’s got great connections in the South. Obviously, working at a place like Alabama under coach Saban, they’ve always been known for their process, and we’ll get to learn a little bit about how they do things. Obviously, they have been very successful.”

If Pantoni, or “The Ambassador of Cool” as Beau Bishop of 97.1 The Fan likes to call him, feels excited about having Petitto on Ohio State’s staff, then I feel excited about having Petitto on Ohio State’s staff.

As Pantoni further acclimates himself as Ohio State’s general manager, a role that features more name, image and likeness responsibilities and less player personnel work, he needed someone with experience to ensure the latter still received the attention it deserves. Pettito had that experience in spades.

A recruiting staff of Ed Terwilliger, Nick Murphy, Erin Dunston, Billy Homer, Ryan Mayhew and Parker Wereb will help Pettito complete tasks as director of player personnel.

A source (IYKYK) told Eleven Warriors that Wereb, formerly a recruiting assistant, was promoted to assistant director of player personnel on Sunday and will work closely with Petitto as he transitions into his new role.

 WELCOME TO THE CFL. K.J. Hill signed a contract with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week. The former Ohio State receiver will make his return to professional football after the Los Angeles Chargers waived him in 2021.

A record-breaking pass-catcher for the Buckeyes, Hill produced one of the best careers of any wide receiver in Ohio State history. Across five seasons with the Buckeyes, Hill became the program’s all-time receptions leader with 201 in 50 games. He also collected 2,332 yards and 20 touchdowns, including one I will never forget – that is his incredible one-handed catch-and-run for a score (and following sticky-gloves celebration):

The Chargers drafted Hill in the seventh round (No. 220 overall) of the 2020 NFL draft. In two seasons with the franchise, Hill had 10 catches for 103 yards. He also returned 18 punts for 124 yards and four kickoffs for 57 yards.

Over the past two years, Hill waited for other NFL opportunities to arise. When none came, he signed with the Blue Bombers, who have one of the deepest wide receiver rooms in the CFL, featuring Dalton Schoen (Kansas State, 2015-19), Kenny Lawler (California, 2013-16) and more.

The Blue Bombers will open their season on June 6 and host the Montreal Alouettes, winners of the 2023 Gray Cup.

 MONEY, MONEY, MONEY... MONEY. In the Monday Skull Session, I wrote that ESPN’s College GameDay will preview Ohio State and Iowa’s top-10 showdown on Sunday. 

The Worldwide Leader in Sports will be in Iowa City for good reason. Yes, the rematch between the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes will be an incredible game. But also, Caitlin Clark will (likely) make her final appearance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena before she turns pro. That appearance could involve her breaking “Pistol” Pete Maravich’s NCAA scoring record of 3,667 points.

All of those factors combined have made ticket prices for Ohio State-Iowa balloon this week. In fact, according to TickPick, Ohio State-Iowa is the most expensive ticket in women’s basketball on record – and that includes the WNBA and the NCAA.

After seeing that tweet, I did some more research on the current ticket prices for the game. Here are the cheapest tickets (general admission and non-general admission) from SeatGeek, StubHub, TicketMaster and VividSeats (as of Tuesday):

That’s wild.

But, then again, for a potential Big Ten championship game preview – and, according to ESPN’s latest Bracketology, a possible Final Four preview – it’s not that wild at all.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “The Pretender” - The Foo Fighters.

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