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McCall makes case for slot, running back

04/04/2017, 12:06am EDT
By By NICHOLAS PIOTROWICZ BLADE SPORTS WRITER

OSU sophomore getting reps in backfield


Last season, Ohio State running back Demario McCall, left, was fourth on the team in carries and averaged 5.5 yards on the ground. McCall scored four touchdowns on 53 total touches. ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS — As far as spring football is concerned, Demario McCall is a running back.

The sophomore is in contention to back up starter Mike Weber at tailback, though Ohio State has not ruled out the possibility of moving McCall to slot receiver, a key position in the Buckeyes’ offense.

The Buckeyes are using the spring to try out a number of players at their ‘H-back’ position formerly played by Curtis Samuel. McCall is not yet one of them, but could be by the time preseason practices arrive.

Currently, McCall is working with running backs coach Tony Alford and taking repetitions with the backs, albeit with an eye on a different role in the fall.

“I talked to coach Alford about it, and he said [in] spring camp, he wants me to get the running back stuff down first and then probably [during] summer camp, throw me in the slot, catch little swing passes, routes, and go from there,” McCall said.

In Ohio State’s offense, the positions have crossover. Samuel led the team in catches last season, but also carried the ball 97 times.

At 5-foot-9, McCall has a similar build to Samuel — and like Samuel, he’s preparing to do anything at any given time.

“The tailback stuff that we do, it goes along with the H-back stuff, so it’s like I’m learning them both, but I’m not actually in the slot yet,” McCall said.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last season that he was concerned that McCall might be too small for the field.

Since arriving to Ohio State weighing 175 pounds, McCall recently weighed in at 195, a gain of 20 pounds in a year’s time. Alford, the running backs coach, gave credit to Ohio State’s strength and conditioning staff, and said McCall has handled the extra weight “really well.”

“He’s taken to it and he’s very diligent about how he’s gained weight, how to take care of his body,” Alford said. “He’s done well. I’m really excited. I love that kid.”

McCall did more watching than playing as a freshman, though the small sample size was encouraging for Ohio State.

He was fourth on the team in carries and averaged 5.5 yards on the ground. McCall scored four touchdowns on 53 total touches. His 101 yards in a win at Maryland prompted Meyer to say “I think he’s going to have a nice future here.”

Ohio State has not totally decided on where McCall fits into its offense, though McCall said his experience from last season gave him a boost of confidence, no matter where he lands.

“I feel like from my last year of experience — knowing that I got a lot more to work on — I got pretty confident from being in the game,” McCall said. “Now I know what to expect.”

NEW COMMIT: The Buckeyes added to their class of 2018 with one of the country’s more sought-after high school players. Florida defensive tackle Taron Vincent — a five-star talent ranked as the top player at his position — announced Sunday that he chose OSU over Florida State.

Ohio State now has five players committed in its next class, all of whom are ranked in the top 100 of 247’s composite rankings.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at: npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 724-6110, or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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Tag(s): College  Ohio State