Skull Session: The Buckeyes “Want to Put on a Good Show” on Saturday, Over 50,000 Will Attend Ohio State’s Spring Game and Jack Nicklaus Takes Center Stage at The Masters

By Chase Brown on April 12, 2024 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

Welcome to the Skull Session.

The Golden Bear took center stage on Thursday at Augusta National.

Have a good Friday.


A few weeks ago, a friend of the program, David Frank of Buckeye Productions, created a trailer for Ohio State’s 2024 season. The trailer will give viewers: One, chills; two, goosebumps; and three, palpable excitement for the Buckeyes’ spring game on Saturday.

Just one more sleep, Buckeye Nation.

Just one more sleep.

 COME ONE, COME ALL. On Wednesday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said he looks forward to coaching the Buckeyes in front of a packed Horseshoe this weekend and interacting with Urban Meyer, Joel Klatt and others on the FOX broadcast.

“It’s a great day planned,” Day said. “To be the first spring game nationally televised on FOX, it’s exciting for our guys, for Buckeye Nation and for the program. It’s really cool, a really great opportunity. Our guys want to put on a good show and have some fun with it. There will be a lot of great recruits here. There’s a lot of great momentum around the program with how things have continued to build.”

Later in the press conference, Day said Ohio State has sold over 50,000 tickets to the game. That number made me wonder, what have been the most attended spring games in program history? After some extensive research (attendance information from the 20th century was hard to track down), I think I’ve found them.

No. 5 - 80,134 in 2017

After Ohio State almost achieved sellouts for the 2015 and 2016 spring games (more on that in a moment), a dip in attendance was bound to occur at some point. It did in 2017, when Buckeye Nation watched Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins duel in the Shoe. Both Burrow and Haskins threw for three touchdowns in the scrimmage while J.T. Barrett – who had returned for his senior season – played a few drives in the first quarter.

No. 4 - 81,112 in 2012

Despite some brutal weather conditions – thick clouds, rain and temperatures in the 40s – Ohio State fans packed into the Shoe for the Buckeyes’ 2012 spring game. Why? Because it was Urban Meyer’s first spring game as the program’s head coach. Ohio State hired the Ashtabula native five months earlier to take over for Luke Fickell, who had led the Buckeyes as an interim coach in 2011 following Jim Tressel’s resignation.

No. 3 - 95,722 in 2009

Ohio State first set the national record for attendance at a spring game 15 years ago, surpassing the crowd of 92,138 that attended Alabama’s 2007 spring game to see Nick Saban’s debut with the Crimson Tide. Buckeye Nation watched Terrelle Pryor throw some impressive deep balls in the contest, connecting with Taurian Washington for a 44-yard touchdown and Ray Small for a 42-yard score.

No. 2 - 99,391 in 2015

After Ohio State won the 2014 national championship, the Buckeyes returned five future top-20 NFL draft picks Joey Bosa (No. 3 overall) and Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4 overall), Eli Apple (No. 10 overall), Taylor Decker (No. 16 overall) and Darron Lee (No. 20 overall). They also had a quarterback competition between Barrett, a record-breaking freshman the year prior, and Cardale Jones, who led Ohio State on their three-game title run. Both of those factors (and more, to be sure) led to nearly 100,000 fans attending the Shoe to watch the scrimmage.

No. 1 - 100,189 in 2016

Leading up to the 2016 spring game, Meyer made a push for Ohio State to draw a crowd of over 100,000 fans for the scrimmage and reset the national record for the second straight year. Meyer called, and Buckeye Nation answered, as 100,189 filled the Shoe for the contest.

Will Ohio State’s 2024 spring game sell 50,000 tickets in a three-day window and set the program attendance record for the event? No, probably not. Especially in a time where watching sports at home has never been better — and, in some (or most?) cases, is superior to commuting to a stadium and paying a premium for parking, food, drinks and other commodities.

Still, attendance could approach that 80,000-81,000 range, depending on how hard Ohio State markets the game in the final 24 hours. Keep in mind, when Day made an appearance on 97.1 The Fan’s “Morning Juice” on April 2, the Buckeyes had sold 30,000 tickets for the spring game. With 20,000 more tickets sold a week later, what’s keeping Ohio State from selling another 20,000 down the stretch?

 THE SUN WILL COME OUT! The weather in Columbus has been flat-out bad for the past 72 hours. It has rained. It has poured. The old man has snored. Thankfully, the weather will improve on Saturday as meteorologists expect sunny conditions and temperatures in the 60s in the afternoon.

Indeed, the sun will come out tomorrow!

Weather App

You think that could help Ohio State sell some more tickets?

 THE BEAST. WARNING: This section will be BEAST to read. It features a lot of words and a lot of information about Ohio State’s NFL draft prospects. Buckle up.

Each April, Dane Brugler of The Athletic releases “The Beast,” NFL-verified testing results and background information for over 1,900 prospects. This year, he included breakdowns for nine Buckeyes, including Marvin Harrison Jr., Mike Hall, Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg, Josh Proctor, Steele Chambers, Matt Jones, Xavier Johnson and Miyan Williams.

“Every NFL prospect is a puzzle. It is a scout’s job to find the puzzle pieces and create as clear a picture of each player as possible,” Brugler wrote. “Those puzzle pieces include everything from the player’s physical traits to his mental makeup to the details of his upbringing – and everything in between.”

Below, I have included what Brugler wrote about Harrison, Stover, Eichenberg, Proctor and Chambers. For the sake of word count, I did not include Brugler’s breakdowns for Jones, Johnson and Williams, whom Brugler believes will not be selected in the seven-round draft.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

STRENGTHS: Extraordinary pass-catching dexterity and freaky athleticism … explosive off the line and uses a variety of releases to defeat press … reaches top speed quickly (23.1 mph in-game speed) and creates vertical push in the route … cohesive footwork, pacing and burst to snap off 90-degree breaks and easily create separation (doesn’t like running fades, because he prefers to win with route prowess) … instinctive tracking skills to slow down or speed up to catch the football in a specific spot … fast, natural hands and won’t fight the football … able to contort his long, lithe frame and make challenging catches above the rim or down by his shoelaces … plays more powerful than he looks and maintains focus through the catch … not very elusive, but he has the athletic talent to navigate after the catch on bubbles and shallow crossers … high football IQ and quickly processes concepts and coverages … credits part of his success to the “Seeker,” a state-of-the-art and programmable JUGS machine that he uses religiously every day (he became a partner with the machine’s parent company, Monarc Sport, which now works with several college and NFL teams) … since he was a kid, he always treated his football training as more of a job than sport (NFL scout: “As talented as he is, his discipline and dedication to the craft might be the most impressive part of this guy.”) … blessed with Hall-of-Fame bloodlines and receives daily tutorship from his father, one of the greatest pass catchers in NFL history … versatile and has experience lining up across the formation and running a full route tree … highly productive and made his mark in the Ohio State record books, despite only two years as a starter — finished his career sixth in school history in both catches (155) and receiving yards (2,613) and third in touchdown grabs (31). 

WEAKNESSES: Lean, muscular body type and doesn’t have elite body armor on his frame … will struggle to power through NFL jam or tackle attempts … guilty of coasting at times when he doesn’t expect to be the target (see Ohio State’s first-quarter INT on 2023 Michigan tape) … plays fast as a ball carrier but not a true YAC weapon, and you’d wish he had more make-you-miss after the catch (just five forced missed tackles in 2023) … one of the true weak areas of his game is perimeter blocking, because of disappointing effort on multiple 2023 tapes … battled through several ankle injuries the last two seasons and suffered a concussion in the 2022 College Football Playoff semifinals vs. Georgia (January 2023), which potentially changed the outcome of the game.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Harrison lined up primarily on the boundary in 2022 before seeing more slot and field reps in 2023 in head coach Ryan Day’s multiple spread offense. At a program known for producing high-level receiver talent, he became the first pass catcher in school history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons and set the school record with 15 100-yard receiving games. In his final season, he earned a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist, took home the Biletnikoff Award and became just the fifth two-time unanimous All-American in Ohio State history (and the first since Orlando Pace). It can be difficult to discuss Harrison without sounding hyperbolic, because he grades well above average in most areas of playing the position. A tall, lean target with the long speed and short-area agility of a smaller player, Harrison displays controlled fluidity in his releases/routes, which allows him to create separation with complex breaks, stem angles and subtle head/body fakes. He has the uncanny ability to slow down the ball with his eyes, expand his catch radius and frame the football to make low-percentage catches appear routine (similar to Larry Fitzgerald). He has finesse tendencies, and his average physicality is one of the only areas of his game that must improve. Overall, Harrison has dominant receiving traits and can win from anywhere on the field, because of his athletic gifts, route savvy and adjustment/finishing skills at the catch point. He is among the best receiving prospects to enter the NFL in recent memory, and he has the dedication to his craft to be a playmaking No. 1 NFL receiver and future All-Pro.  GRADE: 1st 

GRADE: Round 1 (No. 2 overall) 

Michael Hall Jr.

STRENGTHS: Terrific initial quickness to get vertical or cross-face blockers … times the snap well to surprise blockers … uses long arms and raw power to push the pocket … go-to attack includes a variety of arm-over/swim moves, mixing in spins and euros … rangy and alert in the run game with the ability to defeat cut blocks on the backside of zone runs … active with his large hands to absorb contact and aggressively stack-and-separate … plants his post leg to fight back through double teams … played on the offensive line in high school and is familiar with blockers’ countermeasures (NFL scout: “With his talent, I bet he would’ve been a first-round center if he wanted to stay on offense.”) … his high motor leads to clean-up production … one of the youngest players in the draft class. 

WEAKNESSES: Lean build for an interior lineman and will be considered undersized for several schemes (NFL scout: “I’d like to see him shed some of the weight and be a 265-pound linebacker.”) … inconsistent base strength and can be moved off his rush path or displaced by blockers in the run game … not the most disciplined tackler and needs become a better finisher … flagged three times for personal fouls in 2023, including roughing the passer penalties on the Maryland and Penn State tapes … career production looks more like a single season … notched only two tackles in the backfield on 413 defensive snaps in 2023 … battled several nagging injuries over his career and averaged just 28.3 snaps per game the last two seasons. 

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Hall was interchangeable at one- and three-technique in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ four-man front. His college stat sheet is underwhelming, especially from his final season in Columbus (2.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks), but his pass rush win rate (18.3 percent) was second-best among FBS defensive tackles in 2023 (behind only Byron Murphy II). With his first-step burst and lateral agility, Hall quickly gets vertical and is a tough player to handle one-on-one. He uses his long arms and natural leverage to work underneath blocks, although his lack of size and anchor put him in compromised positions, especially versus the run. Overall, Hall was more of a flash player than a consistent force, but his quick-twitch movements and natural energy are the ingredients of a disruptive gap penetrator. If he stays healthy, he will be an immediate rotation player and eventual starting three -technique tackle in a four-man front.

GRADE: Second or Third Round (No. 60 overall)

Cade Stover

STRENGTHS: Smooth athleticism, especially for his prototypical tight end size … coordinated when flipping his body and making catch adjustments mid-stride … speed can stretch the seam vertically … outstanding hands (zero drops in 2023 and only two drops on 108 career targets) … secures catches through contact, and heavy traffic doesn’t affect his focus … aggressively works back to the football … dishes a physical stiff arm and can shake off the first tackle attempt (6.9 YAC per reception in 2023)… rangy reach blocker to hook defenders … flashes strength on down blocks to battle for positioning and seal outside running lanes … football-focused, and his eyes don’t lose sight of the prize … has a linebacker background, and no one will question his toughness (Stover: “I don’t think you can measure what I have inside me.”) … two-time captain and “one of the best teammates in the program,” according to Ohio State coaches … played on punt coverage the last two seasons and finished his college career with 526 special-teams snaps. 

WEAKNESSES: Average inline blocking power to control the point of attack versus defensive ends … inconsistent on-the-move blocking efficiency and needs to use better pad level to leverage his kick-out blocks … needs to be more reliable gaining angles and fitting out in space on wide receiver screens … not much sink or gear down in his breaks and can do a better job setting up his routes (several of his best catches on tape came from being schemed open) … has burst, but his speed is more build-up than immediate … missed one game and parts of others as a senior (October 2023) as he nursed a right knee injury (wore a brace most of the season) … will be 24 years old before his first NFL training camp. 

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Stover was used across the formation in head coach Ryan Day’s offense, splitting his snaps almost 50-50 inline/wing and slot/wide. After spending time on defense (started the Rose Bowl at linebacker as a sophomore), he took over the starting tight end duties for Jeremy Ruckert as a junior, and his game showed steady improvement with each game the past two seasons. A dominant rebounder on the AAU circuit in high school, Stover makes clean grabs outside his frame, with the body control and focus for quick in-air adjustments — even with defenders around him. As a blocker, he too often falls off his man and needs to be a better finisher, but the toughness and tools are there for him to continue getting better in this area. Overall, Stover might never be a top-tier blocker, but he is solid in all phases and will earn NFL paychecks because of his coordinated athleticism to finish at the catch point and move the chains. With his defensive mentality, offensive skills and special-teams experience, he projects as an NFL role player with starting upside and valuable versatility. 

GRADE: Third or Fourth Round

Tommy Eichenberg

STRENGTHS: Highly instinctive versus the run with disciplined eyes/fits … outstanding physicality to stack with his hands, work off offensive line blocks and make stops … his pursuit angles are fast, aggressive and efficient … wasn’t able to run a 40-yard dash, but his film shows range … plays with a stout, balanced base to hold his ground versus power runners … strong wrap-tackler and drives through contact to make ball carriers feel it … two-year team captain (16th player in school history to be a multiyear captain) … not very vocal, but extremely “intense” and “the quarterback of the defense,” according to head coach Ryan Day … always locked-in and would regularly meet with offensive linemen at Ohio State to gain an offensive perspective (NFL scout: “He has a dead-eyed demeanor. His personality is football. You know exactly what you’re getting with him. Plus, the coaches say he’s one of their best practice players. Never goes half-speed.”) … routinely plays through injuries, and it takes a lot for him to miss a game (played the 2023 Michigan game with a dislocated elbow) … led the team in tackles per game each of the last two seasons. 

WEAKNESSES: Shorter-than-ideal arm length … can get sucked into gaps, causing him to be late reacting to outside bounce runs … has trouble corralling moderately elusive ball carriers in space (Sam Hartman was able to shake him on the 2023 Notre Dame tape) … overly conservative in coverage and protects against wasted steps … needs to do a better job identifying routes and passing windows for quicker breaks on throws … shows some hip tightness in man coverage … questionable ball skills and needs to make quarterbacks pay for poor throws … missed three games as a senior because of a dislocated elbow (November 2023). SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Eichenberg manned the middle linebacker position in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ 4 -2-5 base scheme. The heartbeat of the Buckeyes’ defense, he totaled 200 tackles over the last two seasons (8.7 tackles per game) and was named Big Ten Linebacker of the Year in 2023. An above-average run defender, Eichenberg has quick downfield and lateral reaction skills with the physicality to work off blocks and stonewall ballcarriers as a tackler. He shows the skill set to be a functional zone dropper but tends to be late digesting all the routes happening around him, resulting in catches in front of him. Overall, Eichenberg isn’t a proven playmaker in coverage, but he understands pursuitangles and displays outstanding key/read/flow skills versus the run. He has the talent, football character and feel for the game to earn a starting job during his NFL rookie training camp. 

GRADE: Third or Fourth Round

Josh Proctor

STRENGTHS: Long, lean athlete with a wingspan larger than several offensive linemen in the class … springy mover, with the speed to race downhill or outside the numbers … active in run support and transfers his acceleration into tackle attempts to deliver pop at contact … just as comfortable working in the box as he is from single-high perch … subtly wraps his length around pass catchers in coverage for breakup opportunities, without excessive contact (only one career pass interference penalty) … fun-loving personality and “gets along with everyone,” according to his coaches (NFL scout: “Every time I’m in Columbus for gameday, it’s No. 41 jumping around, getting his teammates and the home crowd jacked up.”) … made an impact on kick and punt coverages (412 career special-teams snaps) … played several different coverage alignments. 

WEAKNESSES: Pedals tall … inconsistent with his coverage transitions and recovery tactics, especially in the deep third … needs to show improved route anticipation for quicker drives on catch windows … out of control at times as an open-field tackler … inconsistent wrap-and-finish skills leave him bouncing off tight ends or backs … durability is a red flag after he missed time during each of his six seasons in Columbus — suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg (September 2021) that required season-ending surgery; missed two games in his final season because of injuries, including a head issue that occurred after he created an interception vs. Rutgers (November 2023) … will be 25 years old on draft weekend. 

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Proctor played the “Adjuster” position as a free-roaming safety in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles 4-2-5 base scheme. After a devastating injury in 2021 and the loss of his starting job in 2022, he had his best season as a senior, including career-bests in tackles (47) and passes defended (nine). With his body length and toughness, Proctor is fearless as a tackler and uses burst to close when bearing do wn on ball carriers. Although his coverage anticipation runs hot and cold, he has the long-striding acceleration to drive on crossers or make plays near the sideline with natural ball skills. Overall, Proctor has some hiccups in man coverage, but he sees the field well and offers the range and run-defending skills to work his way up an NFL team’s safety depth chart. He has a skill set that should shine on special teams, although everything will depend on his ability to stay healthy. 

GRADE: Fifth Round

Steele Chambers

STRENGTHS: Athletic mover with lateral and downhill burst … twitch and feel for the backfield action gives him a head start when mirrori ng against the run … shows functional pursuit speed and overall range (versus the run and in coverage) … plays physical as a run defender with active hands to work off blocks … tackles with purpose and improved open-field control to finish the tackles that he starts (his missed tackles declined as a senior compared to his junior tape) … does a nice job working to his landmarks to defend screens … NFL scouts say he has a laid-back, personable attitude but flips a switch on the field … was a regular on kick-return and punt-return coverages (425 special-teams snaps) … durable and played more snaps the last two seasons than anyone else on the Ohio State defense. 

WEAKNESSES: Lean, underweight frame with shorter arms … tightness in his ankles hurts his ability for quick recoveries … can get sucked up in his eagerness to make a play, causing him to lose sight of the football in a crowd … looks to shed once engaged, but needs to be more proactive with his hands to shock before lineman latch on … still too many wasted steps, occasionally running himself into blocks … quick to drive after dropping in coverage, but he needs to show better anticipation to squeeze routes from zone (see 2023 Notre Dame tape) … missed part of 2023 spring practices for a lower-body procedure (April 2023).

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Chambers played Will linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ 4-2-5 base scheme. After enrolling in Columbus as a running back, he made the switch to defense in 2021 and finished his college career with 30 straight starts at linebacker, leading the Buckeyes in tackles in 2023. Aside from having an outstanding name for a linebacker, Chambers runs well and made noticeable improvements with his reads an d tackling consistency since moving over from offense (see the 2023 Michigan tape). However, his lackluster take-on technique leaves him stuck on blocks, especially when he loses his run fits. Overall, Chambers needs to continue developing his feel for blocking schemes and cover responsibilities, but his athletic ran ge and play personality are solid foundational traits for the next level. He has the talent to compete for a rotational linebacker and special-teams role in the NFL.

GRADE: Sixth or Seventh Round

When looking ahead to 2025, there’s no chance I’ll be able to include Brugler’s breakdowns for the dozens of Buckeyes who will declare for the draft: Emeka Egbuka, TreVeyon Henderson, Quinshon Judkins, Donovan Jackson, Seth McLaughlin, Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Tyleik Williams, Ty Hamilton, Cody Simon, Sonny Styles, C.J. Hicks, Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, Davison Igbinosun, Lathan Ransom, among others.

Yeah, no chance.

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