That Kind Of Week
A couple of ex-Buckeyes kiss and make up with Boomer’s problem child. Some Ohioans would rather walk to Columbus then ride someplace else. An old league is new again and says, “This time we’re serious.” Yeah, it was kind of an odd week.
Nice Guys Finish First
Defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes represented Ohio State at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama last week. While they were not on the field together much during the game itself, they did team up to torment Boomer Sooner’s Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield a bit early in the week and bury the hatchet. Mayfield and Holmes were even seen having a friendly chat during the game. I’ll fully admit Holmes and Lewis are far better people than I am. I know exactly where I’d bury the hatchet with Mayfield. Here’s a bit of a look at how those two classy Buckeyes fared in the game.
Tyquan Lewis: The 2016 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year was his usual disruptive self and proved to be one of the best players on the field. The 6’4” 265 pound native of North Carolina had a sack, two tackles for a loss, consistently pressured the quarterback and used his quickness to beat the tight end to the inside and blow up a run play. The Browns own 6 of the first 65 picks in this spring’s upcoming NFL draft. Pairing Lewis with an emerging Emmanuel Ogbah to compliment Myles Garrett (7 sacks in 11 games as a rookie) could turn their pass rush into one of the strengths of the defense.
Jalyn Holmes: Used a nifty spin move to get a sack and was able to pressure the quarterback on a few occasions. He also had two tackles for a loss and batted away a pass. Showed his versatility by lining up on the interior defensive line and the outside, spent a few plays rushing the passer out of a 2-point stance as well. He’s not as quick as Lewis, but that ability to move inside is what will draw teams to him. Currently projected to go in rounds 3 or 4 of the draft.
Since there is so much interest in Baker Mayfield I want to give my impression of what I saw during the game. After spending his entire college career in the shotgun, he spent time leading up to the Senior Bowl learning the mechanics of playing under center. Obviously this is something entirely new to him and it showed. His footwork was exaggerated as if he was almost thinking his way through it and he did not look comfortable at all throwing the ball coming out from under center. Some people claim he’s a day one starter in the NFL, but I can’t see that considering how much he needs to improve his under center mechanics. I don’t doubt he’ll put in countless hours working on this between now and the beginning of training camp in July. But, it’s one thing to perfect those mechanics during controlled workouts, it’s another entirely to put them to use in live scrimmage or game situations when very large, fast, mean people are trying to rip your head off.
Walking to Columbus
With the announcement by Summit Country Day H.S. receiver Xavier Johnson will be joining the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on, Urban Meyer now has 11 in-state players who have decided
to forgo scholarship offers elsewhere to join his program. Whether it is due to the recent success of walk-ons like Craig Fada, Zach Turnure and C.J.Saunders or not, Meyer and his staff made beefing up the number of preferred walk-ons a priority this recruiting cycle. This past season Turnure, who was a senior in 2017, played in all 14 games and recorded 13 tackles playing on special teams. Saunders originally joined the program as a defensive back, but made the switch to offense where he made 17 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown. Although most of that was in mop-up time, he did see snaps with the 1st team offense from time to time due to injuries. For me, you can’t have enough preferred walk-ons because you never know when a kid will get a little bigger, faster, improve his skills and be able to contribute regularly to the program.
Mission Hills, CA wide receiver Chris Olave became OSU’s 24th commitment over the weekend. Although he was very happy with his official visit to Columbus back in November, he was thought to be leaning heavily towards signing with UCLA. All of that changed after an in-home visit by Buckeyes’ wide receiver coach Zach Smith. There have been times I haven’t been happy with the development of his receiver group, but there is no denying Smith is an outstanding recruiter. He brings a receiver in Olave who is 6’1” and only 170, so most likely he will redshirt next season while he builds himself physically. He is an excellent route runner and has great downfield speed. That kind of speed makes me very happy because the Buckeyes need receivers who can stretch the field vertically to open up their run game. During the 2014 title run, Meyer used the big arm of Cardale Jones and the speed of Devin Smith to stretch the defense and open things up for Zeke Elliot to run wild in those final three games. Olave’s speed is certainly a welcome addition.
Olave makes the fourth wide receiver Meyer and his staff have brought in for this recruiting cycle. While that number may seem unusually high, keep in mind the Buckeyes will lose Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell after next season. Also, it will not be a surprise to see either Austin Mack, K.J. Hill or Binjimin Victor make an early exit if one, two or all three have good seasons. Factor in the transfer to Florida of Trevon Grimes, a 2017 recruit, due to family medical issues and there is a real need to replenish the position. Also, Olave is just too good to pass up. You don’t say “no” to a player like him.
Some late breaking developments could see the Buckeyes adding one more in-state player to their top-ranked recruiting class. According to Ryan Donnelly of Land of 10, Dayton Dunbar running back Tavion Thomas quietly made an unofficial visit to Ohio State over the weekend where me met with Meyer and running backs coach Tony Alford. Thomas then de-committed from Oklahoma on Monday morning and has scheduled an official visit with the Buckeyes this upcoming weekend. The 6'2", 225 pound battering ram had been committed to the Sooners since June, but now appears to be ready to become a Buckeye. Scholarship numbers are getting very tight for the Buckeyes, but Meyer and his staff will always find a way to add a good player.
WWE kingpin Vince McMahon announced the return of a new, improved, and most of all, more serious XFL. Although cities haven’t been chosen yet, this version like its predecessor, will have eight teams playing a ten game schedule but will have no ties to the WWE. Which I’m sure is good news to players, coaches and fans alike. Coaches want to coach, players want to play, and neither want to do it in a WWE-like atmosphere. Remember the “feud” McMahon tried to create between former WWE star-turned-football analyst Jesse Ventura and New York/New Jersey Hitmen head coach Rusty Tillman? Tillman wanted nothing to do with it and the entire
farce destroyed what little, if any, credibility the league had. This time around, McMahon says things will be different.
The new XFL hopes to capitalize on the unhappiness of fans over NFL players choosing to kneel during the national anthem. This has already stirred much debate, but to me, it’s quite simple: it’s his league, he makes the rules. If you don’t want to abide by the rules, don’t sign a contract. There are a few other interesting things McMahon has promised: they won’t take any players with criminal records and the games will be played in about two hours. No idea how they plan on getting a game played in two hours, so I’m interested to see how they plan to do this.
The league plans to use multiple platforms to deliver its games to the public, much like the NFL has begun doing. Will I watch? Sure I will. I love football and bad to mediocre football, for me, is still better than great baseball or basketball.
A Final Question
I’d like to close out this edition of my blog by asking a question. What is the Super Bowl? Sounds simple enough, right? But, some struggle with accepting the correct answer. The Super Bowl is quite simply the NFL’s championship game. Although the Super Bowl era began with the 1966 season, the game did not become the league championship until the 1970 season; the first after the NFL’s merger with the American Football League. The first two games were billed as “AFL-NFL World Championship” games. The next two were referred to as Super Bowls, but the winners of those third and fourth games, the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, are not NFL champions. The Baltimore Colts and Minnesota Vikings, the losing teams in Super Bowls III and IV are the official NFL champions. The league, public, and media have built the game into the spectacle it is today, but New England’s win over Atlanta in last year’s game is no more important in the history of the league than the 1933 championship game that saw the Chicago Bears defeat the New York Giants. The 2016 New England Patriots and 1933 Chicago Bears are both listed as NFL champions. The Patriots simply won theirs in the Super Bowl era.
Fans love to put more weight on championships won in the Super Bowl era and go back and forth over who has won the most Super Bowls as if the league began in 1966. Sorry, but the league dates back to 1920 when the Akron Pros were declared the champions based on their won-lost record. The league did not begin holding a championship game until the 1933 season, but those 13 champions the league crowned in the years before the Bears and Giants met are every bit an NFL champion as those who came after them; lack of a championship game does not diminish their accomplishment in my eyes.
So, who has won the most NFL championships? The Green Bay Packers lead everyone with 13, the Bears have won 9, the Giants 8. If New England gets a win in Super Bowl LII, it will be their sixth NFL championship and tie them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in the Super Bowl era; an Eagles win will give them their first championship since 1960 and their fourth
overall. I’m not into predicting scores, so I’ll just say I think Tom Terrific leads the Beantown Boys to number six.