Skull Session: Roddy Gayle Jr. Heads Up North, Mike Hall Explains How Ohio State Prepared Him for the NFL and ESPN’s Butch Reynolds Documentary Debuts This Week

By Chase Brown on April 23, 2024 at 5:00 am
Roddy Gayle Jr.
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Network

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Can I interest anyone in an Ohio State spring game highlight video?

Have a good Tuesday.

 IT’S TREASON, THEN. First Tony Alford, then Roddy Gayle Jr.

What are we doing here?

As I wrote weeks ago regarding Alford, if Gayle wanted to leave, that’s fine. If Ohio State wanted to move on from Gayle (it didn’t), that’s also fine. But where Gayle landed after two years as a Buckeye is… treacherous.

For my whole life, the thought of someone switching sides from Ohio State and Michigan seemed unfathomable. Now, that outcome has occurred twice in six weeks — once in football and once in basketball. (Also note that former Michigan linebacker Joey Velazquez transferred to Ohio State as a walk-on).

Those decisions have marked the end of the world as I knew it…

and I don’t feel fine.

 THE STANDARD’S THE STANDARD. This week, former Ohio State defensive tackle Mike Hall will hear his name called at the NFL draft in Detroit.

Following three seasons with the Buckeyes — in which he recorded 45 tackles, 10 tackles for loss six sacks — the Streetsboro, Ohio, native is excited to enter the professional ranks. In an interview with Nick Schultz of On3, Hall said that excitement started as soon as Ohio State head coach Ryan Day offered him a scholarship in June 2019.

“(It was) a blessing to be coached by him and learn a lot of things,” Hall said. “Just to come in and have these standards, we’ve got to live up to them every day. It’s a high expectation at Ohio State. It’s a fight every day — day in and day out. … You’re spot on the roster is not set. You’ve got to earn it day in and day out. That was known to everybody, no matter if you were on special teams, a kicker, a punter. It’s very competitive and sets you up very well for the next level.”

These standards have been true of Ohio State for decades. On April 3, Ohio State linebackers coach James Laurinatis, a three-time All-American and Butkus Award winner for the Buckeyes from 2005-08, said he performed at an elite level because Ohio State “tried to out-recruit me” and have a better, more athletic prospect take his spot.

Like Hall, Laurinaitis said that’s the reason Ohio State prepares its players for the NFL better than any other program in America.

“I always felt like they were trying to out-recruit me, which is the reality,” he said. “That’s why Ohio State prepares you so well for the league. (NFL teams want) to out-draft you. I used that as fuel because I saw it firsthand. There was a season where it was John Kerr, Marcus Freeman and certain guys rotating week to week. I was like, ‘Shoot, if it can happen to them, it can happen to me.’ That’s why I tried to be a certain way in practice.”

With Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson known for his frequent substitutions during games, Hall said it created urgency among the players to perform when called upon.

In 2023, Tyleik Wiliams led all defensive tackles with 642 snaps. Hall ranked second with 419, followed by Ty Hamilton (343), Hero Kanu (90), Jaden McKenzie (79), Tywone Malone (49), Kayden McDonald (35) and Jason Moore (three). This season, each of those Buckeyes will return for another season, save for Hall and McKenzie.

Hall told Schultz it was a difficult decision to leave Columbus this winter. However, he feels he made the correct choice regarding his football future.

“I’ve got to take care of my priorities first,” Hall said. “I wish those guys the best. Hopefully, they’ll be able to attain that national championship and bring one back to Columbus. That’s definitely the goal that Coach Mick Marotti and Coach Day have. They set the standard of that every year. … If it’s not that, then it’s nothing.”

Some may call that mindset natty or bust.

Fair or unfair, that’s life for the Buckeyes.

Me, personally? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 WHAT IF I TOLD YOU...?  Former Ohio State sprinter and world record holder Butch Reynolds is the subject of ESPN’s newest 30 for 30 documentary, “False Positive,” which details the events prior to Reynolds testing positive for steroids in 1990 and the fallout from that result.

Reynolds and documentary director Ismail Al-Amin will appear at the Central Ohio premiere of the film at the Southern Theatre on Wednesday. The film is part of the Columbus Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) Columbus Film Festival.

Here is how CAPA describes the film:

Monte Carlo, 1990. The world record holder in the 400-meters, Butch Reynolds, takes a routine drug test that comes back positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone. When Butch challenges the results, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) publicly admits their lab technician mixed up Reynold’s urine specimen with another athlete’s, leading to a “false positive.” In an outrageous about-turn that would lead to one of the greatest injustices in American sports, the IAAF refuses to administer another test, claiming the lab “corrected their mistake.” Instead, they label Reynolds a “dirty athlete,” banning him from competition during the most vital years of his career.

This looks and sounds like another banger for ESPN Films and 30 for 30.

“O.J.: Made in America,” “The Two Escobars,” “Celtics and Lakers: Best of Enemies,” “Elway to Marino,” “The U,” “Survive and Advance,” “You Don’t Know Bo,” “Bad Boys” — and who could forget the best of them all, “Youngstown Boys”?

I look forward to watching “False Positive” and learning more about Reynolds’ experience whenever the documentary arrives on the ESPN+ app.

 LIKE THE LOGO? In a recent episode of “The Joel Klatt Show,” FOX college football analyst Joel Klatt looked at the four logos Ohio State has used over the past 50+ years:

Which one is your favorite?

When I discussed these logos in a Skull Session last year, I said I liked the one from 1987-91 and received massive pushback. I can’t remember the reasons for it. But still, even though I will be ridiculed for a second time, I will make the same claim…

That logo is sick.

Sue me!

Overall, the current Ohio State logo is the best. Scarlet and gray are the two dominant colors, and there are black and white accents that make it all come together. It looks darn good!

 SONG OF THE DAY. “It’s The End of the World as We Know It” - R.E.M.

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