Skull Session: Air Noland’s Father Shuts Down Transfer Rumors, Joel Klatt Says Buckeyes “Have to Win” the Michigan Game and Ezekiel Elliott Will Do “Whatever It Takes” to Win

By Chase Brown on June 11, 2024 at 5:00 am
Air Noland

Welcome to the Skull Session.

The players have extended their lead in the June Olympics.

Have a good Tuesday.

 SHUT DOWN REAL QUICK. On Friday, a rumor swirled around Ohio State social media that freshman Air Noland, the No. 56 overall prospect and No. 4 quarterback in the 2024 class, had left the program and returned to his hometown of Fairburn, Georgia. 

Ohio State beat reporters debunked the rumor soon after it came out. Still, Noland’s father, Prentiss Noland Jr., decided to speak on the matter during an appearance on the Juck on Bucks podcast, confirming that his son is in Columbus and has experienced “no problems” since he arrived on campus in January.

“He’s got a big family here in Atlanta. Of course, we hear the rumors. … I’ve already got like 45 calls here in Atlanta about that situation,” he said Sunday. “It’s not good as a father to hear that, you know what I mean? Even when I just got off the phone with my son 30 minutes ago. I asked him, ‘How was practice, and what did y’all go over?’ You’ve to remember, I’m a coach, too. I’m a dad and a coach. I have to call him sometimes and say, ‘Hey, don’t go on social media. Don’t listen to it. Just keep doing what you're doing.’

“Just to put the rumors to bed, Air’s in Columbus. There are no problems. There’s no situation. Did he get a little homesick? Yes, he was homesick when he first got to Ohio. He’s like any other normal human being that leaves (their home).”

First, I want to condemn the erroneous rumor-swirling that occurred over the weekend. (Don’t believe all the stuff you see on social media, people).

Second, I want to commend Prentiss Noland Jr. for coming on Juck’s show to nip the rumor in the bud. He seems a good man and a good father to Air, and I respect him a ton for defending his son in a public fashion. He didn’t have to do it, but he did – and good on him for it.

 “THEY NEED IT BADLY.” In a recent episode of “The Joel Klatt Show,” FOX college football analyst Joel Klatt ranked the top 10 games that will shape the 2024 college football season. To the surprise of no one in Buckeye Nation, I’m sure, Klatt ranked three of Ohio State’s games on the list, including its road trips to Oregon (the No. 5-ranked game) and Penn State (No. 2) and its season finale against Michigan in Columbus (No. 1).

When discussing the first two matchups, Klatt focused on the Ducks and the Nittany Lions rather than the Buckeyes. He explained that Oregon can make a statement in its first Big Ten season with a win over Ohio State. Klatt then said Penn State can emerge as a legitimate conference and national title contender with an upset win in State College.

As Klatt transitioned to The Game, his focus shifted to Ohio State – almost exclusively.

No. 1 - Michigan at Ohio State

“You can’t talk about games that shape college football without talking about this game. Week 13, Nov. 30, it’s The Game, Michigan at Ohio State. You think of the ramifications. It’s kind of like Georgia and Alabama. This game, in so many ways, will shape the sport for the foreseeable future. Like Alabama now measuring themselves against Georgia and Kirby Smart, now – all of a sudden – Ohio State has to measure up against Michigan. Michigan is the one that has won the national championship and been 15-0. Michigan is the one that has been 3-0 in the past three years against Ohio State. Michigan is the one that is the three-time defending Big Ten champion. Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have to win this game. They’re hosting this game. They’ve lost three straight. They need it. They need it badly. Their activity this offseason signals that. Ryan Day gave up playcalling duties. He brings in Chip Kelly. He goes out and raises an incredible amount of money and they retain a veteran roster, in particular on defense, and have great players on the offensive side. Emeka Egbuka is back. TreVeyon Henderson is back. JT Tuimoloau is back. Jack Sawyer is back. They go down the list. They get premium transfers — Quinshon Judkins is now a running back for them, and Caleb Downs is now a safety for them. The roster is incredible. The defense is incredible. There is an insane amount of pressure on the coaching staff in Columbus right now.”


Pressure is a privilege.

C.J. Stroud said that once. Day has said it, too.

It’s real.

When Ohio State enters 2024, there will be an insane amount of pressure on the coaching staff and the players to beat “That Team Up North.” But that’s good, or so I think. To be clear, the past three seasons of losing The Game have been brutal. But (if the Buckeyes can beat) when the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines on Nov. 30, it will be oh-so-sweet.

I hope our website crashes from all the service requests – as it did in 2021, 2022 and 2023 – but this time around, it will be to celebrate a long-awaited win over our rivals.

Good news: You can sing Carmen Ohio while you wait.

Day would like that.

“I have this vision in my head of us holding up the national championship or celebrating against the ‘Team Up North’ and everyone in Buckeye Nation, 12 million strong, singing the fight song,” Day told Josh Pate of CBS Sports last month.

Oh come let’s sing Ohio’s praise… 

 FIVE YEARS LATER... A lot can change in five years – especially in the NFL.

As the 2024 offseason continues and excitement around Caleb Williams, Marvin Harrison Jr. and more grows, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report reminded his audience last week that not all first-round draft picks succeed in the NFL and sometimes, Knox wrote, “it can take several years to judge a prospect-turned-pro accurately.”

For that reason, as rookies from the 2019 class have completed their first professional contracts, Knox decided to re-select the first round of the 2019 NFL draft:

You can bet that the 2019 draft would have unfolded differently had franchises known what was ahead. Here, we’ll examine what things might have looked like by jumping back five years for an alternate-reality redraft. We’ll approach this 2019 redraft as if teams had all the information of what transpired over the past five seasons. Factors like player performance, team fit, franchise trajectory and injuries were considered.

The writer’s thought experiment benefited a couple of Buckeyes, including wide receiver Terry McLaurin and defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones.

Note: Defensive end Nick Bosa still went No. 2 overall to the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Dwayne Haskins fell out of the first round (he went No. 15 overall to the Washington Redskins in real life).

No. 12 - Terry McLaurin to the Green Bay Packers

With (Rashan) Gary off the board, the Packers pivot to the other side of the football. In this scenario, Green Bay knows its window with quarterback Aaron Rodgers is beginning to close. Rodgers was named NFL MVP in both 2020 and 2021, but he struggled in 2022 and was traded to the Jets in 2023.

Adding Ohio State wideout Terry McLaurin—who was originally selected in Round 3 by the Washington Commanders—would help maximize Rodgers' remaining time. Green Bay came close to reaching the Super Bowl in 2020 but failed in a late comeback bid against Tom Brady's Buccaneers in the NFL title game. Having another reliable pass-catcher to go with Davante Adams might have changed the outcome of that game.

While McLaurin might not be the biggest or the fastest receiver in the NFL, he's been incredibly reliable. A savvy route-runner with reliable hands and terrific field awareness, McLaurin has managed to thrive despite some very inconsistent quarterback play. McLaurin has topped 900 receiving yards in each of his pro seasons and has surpassed the 1,000-yard in each of the last four. He'd be the dependable No. 2 receiver Green Bay never quite got in Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Allen Lazard and could help soften the blow of Adams' 2022 trade.

Knowing how things will unfold, the Packers use a redraft to do something they otherwise haven't done since taking Javon Walker in 2002—they grab an offensive skill player in the first round.

No. 29 - Dre’Mont Jones to the Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks got the 29th pick from the Chiefs in the Frank Clark trade. They used it to make a very curious decision.

TCU's L.J. Collier was a one-year starter at defensive end who was much more of an edge-setter than a pass-rusher. Ends who don't effectively rush the passer can be valuable, but they don't often justify a first-round selection. Collier did little to justify his draft status. He made just 16 starts in four seasons with the Seahawks He landed with Arizona in 2023 but played just one game before a biceps injury ended his season. In 46 combined NFL games, Collier has logged just 42 tackles and three sacks.

In this re-draft, the Seahawks instead take defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones, who joined the franchise as a free agent last offseason. Originally a third-round pick of the Broncos, Jones has been a very solid defensive contributor, if not an outright star. In 73 career appearances with Denver and Seattle, Jones has recorded 182 total tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He had 4.5 sacks and 20 quarterback pressures for the Seahawks this past season.

Over the past couple of seasons, defensive tackle has become a premium position in the NFL, and interior defenders who can get after opposing passers are especially valuable. Seattle uses its redraft opportunity to add Jones four years early.

It’s been well-documented that I was excited to see Aaron Rodgers throw the football to Garrett Wilson last season and that I was crushed when Rodgers tore his Achilles on the first drive as quarterback of the New York Jets. Imagining Rodgers, four years younger, throwing to McLaurin in Green Bay blows that level of excitement out of the water. With Adams established as the Packers’ WR1, McLaurin would have racked up yards and touchdowns while exploiting one-on-one matchups with smooth short, intermediate and deep routes.

As for Jones, the 6-foot-3, 281-pound defensive tackle ended up on the Seahawks in real life, so I don’t need to imagine it. Still, it’s fair to wonder if the former Buckeye would have produced the same statistics through five seasons had it started in Seattle and not Denver.

 FEED ZEKE. One year after Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys parted ways, the two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler is back like he never left after signing a one-year deal with the franchise on April 30.

Now entering his ninth season in the league, Elliott is ready to help the…

*vomits a little*

Dallas Cowboys…

... win in 2024.

The NFL’s single-season rushing leader in 2016 and 2018, Elliott is no longer the bellcow back he once was in Dallas. Instead, the soon-to-be 29-year-old will contribute to the Cowboys’ running-back-by-committee approach this season, along with Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Royce Freeman and Connor Snoop.

In an interview at minicamp last week, Elliott said he is excited about his role and hopes to elevate the team’s offense this fall.

“We’ve got a lot of good, young players that bring a lot of good things to the table,” Elliott told Patrik Walker, a staff writer. “I’m excited to get to work with them in camp and help them to continue to develop. I’ve got eight years with however many carries, however many reps and however many blitz pickups, so the experience (will be helpful). … I’ve seen just about everything. I just want to give them a little bit of my experience and any tidbit that can help them.”

As Elliott looks ahead to the season, all he cares about – especially at this stage of his career – is winning football games.

“I love football, so I’m gonna do whatever it takes for me to help this team win. Whatever that is,” Elliott said.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Patience” - The Lumineers.

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