Skull Session: Urban Meyer Says Ohio State Has “One of the Most Talented Rosters in the Last Decade,” and Jake Diebler Welcomes Alumni Back to Columbus For Workouts

By Chase Brown on June 19, 2024 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day and Urban Meyer
Adam Cairns / USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Ohio State running back Caleb Downs sounds cool.

What do you think?

Have a good Wednesday.

 “I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT.” Nine Saturdays separate Ohio State from its 2024 college football season. However, former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has already offered the Buckeyes a tremendous amount of praise for their roster construction and talent.

"As of now, this is one of the most talented rosters in the last decade, maybe ever," Meyer told Adam King of 10TV on Monday. "That's a big statement. They got to play. But you look at the quality of athlete at every position, and I've never seen anything like it."

Another former Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel, echoed Meyer’s sentiments.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that many great players in that building all at once,” he said. “Every position – every place you turn – Ryan (Day) has done a great job. Ohio State has done a great job.”

This offseason, 11 next-level caliber starters chose to return for another season in Columbus, including running back TreVeyon Henderson, wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, offensive lineman Donovan Jackson, defensive linemen Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton, linebacker Cody Simon and defensive backs Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock and Davison Igbinosun.

Then, the Buckeyes added six impact transfers in quarterbacks Will Howard and Julian Sayin, running back Quinshon Judkins, tight end Will Kacmarek, offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin and, last but not least, defensive back Caleb Downs.

Oh, and before all of that roster retention and addition occurred, the Buckeyes signed the No. 5 overall class in 2024, according to the 247Sports composite. That class featured No. 1 overall prospect Jeremiah Smith – who will make an instant impact as a freshman – as well as defensive end Eddrick Houston, cornerback Aaron Scott Jr., quarterback Air Noland and running back James Peoples, among others.

So, yes, I would agree that Ohio State has “one of the most talented rosters in the last decade.” Now, about Meyer’s next two words… “maybe ever.” That could also be true. 

But the Buckeyes still have to maximize that talent on the football field.

Ohio State’s 1969 team was one of the most talented rosters ever… but it lost to Michigan. Ohio State’s 1998 team was one of the most talented ever… but it lost to Michigan State… at home. Ohio State’s 2015 team was one of the most talented ever… but it lost to Michigan State… at home. Ohio State’s –

You get the picture.

No need to put salt in the wounds.

Ohio State’s 2024 season starts on Aug. 31, as the Buckeyes will host Akron at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS.


People are all in on Ohio State in 2024.

With expectations comes pressure – but it’s a pressure Ryan Day has embraced as a sixth-year head coach of the Buckeyes.

“I don’t know since I’ve been here if we’ve been this talented and this experienced together,” Day said on Tuesday. “Our guys have played a lot of football, they are fourth and fifth-year guys, and that does matter.”

While Ohio State has question marks at quarterback and offensive line, Day said the Buckeyes have fewer position battles than usual. As a result, Ohio State is more concerned about having depth at wide receiver, defensive tackle and safety. With the new 12-team College Football Playoff, it’s imperative for the Buckeyes to have backups that can perform when called upon.

“We know it’s gonna be a long year,” Day said. “We’re gonna need everybody.”

Coming off a season in which Ohio State suffered its third consecutive loss to “That Team Up North” and missed the College Football Playoff, Day doesn’t feel greater pressure than in past years as the Buckeyes’ head coach. That’s because the standard at Ohio State is perfection, he said.

“It’s just the truth,” Day said. “At my (introductory) press conference, I said you’ve got to beat the ‘Team Up North’ and win every game other than that. When you come up short, you’ve got to figure out a way to get those things fixed. I think we have done that. … But the expectations are the same every year. The pressure’s the same every year. I just like the pressure when you’ve got a really good team behind you. That’s what we’ve got right now.”

In short, Day basically quoted C.J. Stroud and said, “Pressure is a privilege.”

It is indeed.

 THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. This week, former Ohio State hoopers have been back in Columbus for a series of workouts and scrimmages with the 2024-25 Buckeyes. On Tuesday, the Ohio State creative team offered fans a behind-the-scenes look at some of the players.

After seeing those photos, I asked myself, "Where are all of these Buckeyes now?" So I did some research. Here's what I found:

D’Angelo Russell

Russell appeared in 76 games and made 69 starts for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2023-24. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound guard averaged 18 points and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 45.6% from the field and a team-best 41.5% from deep. Russell also set the Lakers’ single-season franchise record for 3-pointers made, draining 226 on the year.

E.J. Liddell

After the New Orleans Pelicans selected him with a second-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft, Liddell tore his ACL in the Summer League. Liddell returned to action this past season, appearing in nine games for the Pelicans. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward also made a massive impact for the franchise’s G-League affiliate, the Birmingham Squadron, averaging 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Andre Wesson

Following a four-year career at Ohio State, Wesson went undrafted in 2020. However, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward has spent two of the past three seasons as a professional overseas. In 2021-22, Wesson averaged 16.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for Kobrat in Finland. The following season, he averaged 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest for Nassjo in Sweden. 

Jae’Sean Tate

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Tate is undersized for a forward. That never bothered him at Ohio State; it’s never bothered him in the NBA. Tate went undrafted in 2018 and spent two seasons overseas with the Antwerp Giants and Sydney Kings. In 2020, he landed a two-way contract with the Houston Rockets, and he’s been with the franchise ever since. Across four seasons with the Rockets, Tate has appeared in 244 games and averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He averaged just 4.1 points in 15.9 minutes per game for Houston in 2023-24, however.

Brice Sensabaugh

A one-and-done player at Ohio State, Sensabaugh became the No. 28 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft, landing with a rebuilding Utah Jazz franchise. This past season, Sensabaugh appeared in 32 games for the Jazz and averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. He also averaged 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 13 games for Utah’s G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.

Sam Thompson

Once known as Slam Thompson around these parts, the 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward has been in professional basketball for almost a decade. Since he went undrafted in 2015, Thompson has played for the Grand Rapids Drive (2015-16), Delaware 87ers (2016), Vasas Akademia (2016-17), Greensboro Swarm (2017-19), Saigon Heat (2019-20), Casale Monferrato (2020-21), Sioux Falls Skyforce (2021-22, 2023), Nelson Giants (2022) and Marineros de Puerto Plata (2023-24).

Shannon Scott

The guard Ohio State chose over Trey Burke – a cheap shot, I know, but I had to! –Scott spent four seasons with the Buckeyes from 2011-15. Following his career in Columbus, Scott has spent nine years in professional basketball, including stints with the Raptors 905 (2015-16), Doxa Lefkada (2016-17), Long Island Nets (2018-19, 2021), Juventus Utena (2019-20), Brose Bamberg (2021-22), Cairns Taipans (2022-23), Brisbane Bullets (2023-24) and Kaosiung Aquas (2024).

William Buford

A Big Ten Freshman of the Year and three-time All-Big Ten honoree for the Buckeyes, Buford has been a professional hooper for over 12 years. His career started with the Obradoiro CAB in 2012 and has continued with the Santa Cruz Warriors (2013-14), Canton Charge (2014), Texas Legends (2015), Tigers Tubingen (2015-16), Limoges CSP (2016-17), BCM Gravelines (2017), BG Gottingen (2018), Lavrio (2019), Virtus Roma (2019-20), Darussafaka Tekfen (2020-21) and Oliver Wurzburg (2021-24).

Ron Lewis

Lewis has been awesome… LETS IT GO!… HITS IT!... OH!

After a three-year career with the Buckeyes (he transferred from Bowling Green after two seasons), Lewis spent 14 years in professional basketball in Belgium, Israel, Czechia, Turkey, Italy, Israel and France. He now spends his time as a coach for my alma mater Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus. Across two seasons in the role, Lewis’ teams have contended for Ohio Capital Conference titles.

 THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. To close the Skull Session, I will circle back to a section I wrote last month about “Triumph,” a film that documents Jesse Owens' incredible achievements at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Time flies because that film debuts on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the HISTORY Channel.

As a reminder, here is how HISTORY describes the film, which LeBron James and Maverick Carter executive produced and Don Cheadle narrated:

“Triumph: Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics” is executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s award-winning athlete storytelling brand UNINTERRUPTED and Cinemation Studios in association with GroupM Motion Entertainment. It explores the dramatic tale of Owen’s athletic dedication, perseverance, and triumph over Hitler’s Aryan supremacy agenda and his resilience against racism both abroad and at home in the U.S. The documentary also features archival Olympic footage and interviews from Owens, smartly executed animation and first-hand interviews from family members, journalists, historians, and reputable athletes including 9x Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis, and Owen’s daughters Marlene and Beverly Owens, among others.

Set during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, and just three years before the start of WWII, African American track and field athlete Jesse Owens took the world stage and launched into international fame by making Olympic history after winning four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, long jump, 200-meter dash and 4×100-meter dash. This feat made him arguably one of the greatest and most impactful athletes of all time.

Grab your popcorn.

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