Skull Session: Ohio State’s 2023 Class Wants to Be Buckeyes, the Jets Should’ve Picked Justin Fields in 2021 and The Predator Makes His Return on Sunday

Welcome to the Friday Skull Session.

Zed Key is a treasure that must be protected at all costs.

It’s pretty fun to see Key celebrating his teammates. I like the culture Chris Holtmann is building with the Basketbucks this year – it seems fun!

Let’s have a good Friday, shall we?

BECOMING A BUCKEYE. Ohio State’s 2023 class added its 20th signee on Thursday as four-star safety Jayden Bonsu signed his National Letter of Intent to become a Buckeye despite rumors he may move elsewhere.

Before Bonsu’s addition to the class became official, Ryan Day spoke with the media on Wednesday to break down the 2023 class and what each prospect brings to the table for Ohio State. Among the many questions and answers, Day noted how each of the program’s signees wanted to be Buckeyes and all of them “did it for the right reasons.”

I found Day’s reasons for recruits picking the Buckeyes to be noteworthy, as the Ohio State head coach said they recognized “the opportunity here” and what the program can do for them. His reasons included, but were not limited to, these five factors:

  1. Development at Ohio State (#DevelopedHere)

  2. Educational opportunities

  3. Chance to win a national championship every year

  4. Culture and relationships

  5. City of Columbus

Notice how there is no mention of name, image and likeness. Although there probably should be, I don’t necessarily blame Day for not claiming it as a factor for why the 2023 recruits chose Ohio State.

It became clear that most prospects who chose to be a Buckeye were not in it solely for the money, per se, as Miami (FL), Oregon and other programs (quack quack) appeared to have donors with deeper pockets that might have led to more lucrative NIL opportunities elsewhere. Heck, even Washington had bigger NIL deals lined up for four-star quarterback Lincoln Kienholz than Ohio State did, which Kienholz made clear in the video below. Still, he chose to play for Day and Corey Dennis because of their track record of development and a more direct path to the NFL from Columbus than Seattle.

Referencing Day’s five factors, Kienholz likely chose Ohio State for options No. 1, no. 3 and no. 4. Those three factors were more important than money to the Pierre, South Dakota, native. However, that wasn’t the case for every other prospect in 2023, and it won’t be the case moving forward, which means the Buckeyes will need to have their boosters ready to back up the Brinks truck when necessary.

As I said in Thursday’s Skull Session, the swings and misses in 2023 didn’t concern me because the class was already established and set to become Buckeyes. Yet, I will be more concerned in the future if Ohio State continues to whiff on top talent because of a lack of money in the NIL bank.

That is, unless Ohio State wins a national championship this season, reaffirming the Buckeyes as one of the best teams in college football and making the five factors all the more powerful as Day continues building his program in years five and beyond.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. On April 29, 2021, Ohio State fans collectively groaned as the New York Jets selected BYU quarterback Zach Wilson as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft instead of Justin Fields.

At the time, it felt like a general-manager-tries-to-be-the-smartest-person-in-the-room situation for New York GM Joe Douglas, which it was. And that has since been proven by how Wilson and Fields have played through almost two full seasons in the NFL, as the former was benched by the Jets by midseason – and likely won’t have a future in the Big Apple – while the latter is breaking records amid a breakout year.

With those outcomes in mind, ESPN’s Jordan Reid and Matt Miller corrected the Jets’ mistake when they redrafted the top 15 picks of the 2021 NFL draft, as Reid sent the former Ohio State quarterback to the JETS with the No. 2 picks instead of No. 11 to Da Bears.

2. New York Jets

Original pick: Zach Wilson, QB – New pick: Justin Fields, QB

Reid: The Jets get a chance to right their pick here. Fields just surpassed the 1,000-yard mark as a rusher in Chicago, but imagine him with this ascending roster and in a Mike LaFleur offense that keeps a quarterback on schedule with a lot of easy throws. He still has a lot to prove as a passer, but his development could lead to great things. Having him under center would change this team’s trajectory with an exciting dual-threat orchestrating the offense.

Wilson’s time with the Jets has been complicated. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 21 career starts, and he was benched last month before returning in Week 15 because of Mike White’s injury. He has completed just 55.4% of his passes over the past two seasons.

Editor’s Note: Wilson played on Thursday Night Football against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He went 9-of-18 passing with an interception before being benched for Chris Streveler.

Of course, the Butterfly Effect is at play here with Wilson and Fields. If Fields were on the Jets last season, it’s possible they wouldn’t have been in a position to draft Garrett Wilson in 2022, which changes their current roster entirely. But, for the sake of having more fun, let’s say Garrett Wilson is still on the Jets with Fields in this scenario. I mean, could you imagine? It would be endless fun.

Shame on the Jets for not making the easy call. May they think about what could have been for the rest of the time.

THE PREDATOR RETURNS. It feels like it’s been an eternity since I wrote in a Skull Session of Chase Young’s return to practice this year after tearing his ACL in November 2021. But now, finally, the former Ohio State defensive end will suit up for the Washington Commanders against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.

This news from the Commanders is quite an early Christmas present, as it has been a long road back to action for The Predator, who had racked up 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits and nine sacks through his first 24 games as a pro while also collecting an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and Pro Bowl honors in 2020.

Sooner or later – hopefully sooner – Young will look like his old self on the football field again, something Washington and Ohio State fans will be very eager to see. And in case you forgot how dominant Young was as a Buckeye, here are some clips that may jog the ol’ memory:

GOT HOLIDAY PLANS? Ladies and gentlemen, I have learned that there was something Marvin Harrison Jr. was never able to catch: Santa Claus. I also learned a lot more about Harrison’s holiday traditions and those of CJ Stroud.

Hear what kind of plans Ohio State’s WR1 and QB1 have for this Christmas as they hold a tiny microphone and answer questions from the Big Ten Network. It’s quite the treat:

The next time I write to you all will be after the holiday weekend. Have fun and be safe wherever you end up and let’s get ready for Georgia Week starting on Monday.

Bring on the Bulldogs.

Ohio Against the World.

SONG OF THE DAY. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison.

CUT TO THE CHASE. Scientists reveal secrets of frog transparency… NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” headed to YouTube beginning next season… “Top Gun,” “Black Panther” advance in Oscars shortlist… Chilly temperatures could lead to bizarre Christmas scene… Idaho man decorates beard with 710 baubles for Guinness World Record.

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