Today’s Topic: Can Ohio State Running Back Demario McCall Be An Every-Down Back?
As a true freshman in 2016, Demario McCall was the Buckeyes’ No. 2 running back behind Mike Weber.
Of course, having Curtis Samuel at H-back and JT Barrett at quarterback meant that there were not a lot of carries remaining for McCall, who was utilized mostly in “garbage time.”
Urban Meyer used to lament McCall’s slight frame (5-9 182), which kept him from being an option between the tackles.
Still, as a true freshman, McCall was routinely fired directly into the line of scrimmage between the tackles as the Buckeyes ran out the clock. He rushed for 270 yards on 49 carries, managing 265 of those yards in just four games.
Injuries took their toll the following season, limiting him to just 14 carries and 111 yards rushing — with 11 of those carries and 103 of those yards coming on the road at Rutgers.
Last year, McCall made the move to H-back, where he found himself mired in a depth chart with Parris Campbell, KJ Hill, CJ Saunders, and Jaelen Gill.
Back at running back for the 2019 season, however, big things are expected from McCall. A calf injury kept him out of action this spring, so there are still questions about the type of role that McCall could have this season.
As he showed last year against Michigan, he is dangerous in the passing game out of the backfield, but Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford believes McCall will be ready to do anything he is asked. Even if it’s carry the ball on first, second, third, and fourth down if the need is there.
No need. This was designed for McCall last year. (Three plays after he fumbled the KO return.) pic.twitter.com/wcsLGoEJPg
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) January 18, 2019
“He’s not going to be only on third down,” Alford said this spring. “No, no, no. He’s got to be able to be a full complement player. And that’s one of the things we try to train these guys, you want to be a complete player. Don’t be a one-dimensional guy. Now there are some teams that that’s what they do. They have situational players. We have not done that. We have you’re a three-down or four-down guy. That’s what you are, and you’d better be able to play in all facets and all situations.”
Coming back from playing receiver, however, will require some additional work. But the goal remains the same.
“One of the things we’ve had to do with him is he’s got to hone in on his pass protection,” Alford said. “He’s a smaller guy by nature and by stature. And he hasn’t done it because we moved him out to wide receiver, so we really have to hone back in on that now. But he knows that and he’s working on it. And it’s important to him.
“But he’s a smart kid and he understands our offense, so part of it is knowing where to go and when to be there. And he does. And so I’m excited about where he’s going, I’m excited about his future in this football program. I’m excited about his future as a person. Because you watch, he’s going to be special not just on the field, but off the field. He’s special. Special kid.”