The No. 7 player on this list has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but whenever healthy — and even when not — he has made big plays when given a chance as both a runner and receiver.
No. 7 — Demario McCall, Redshirt Junior Running Back
As a true freshman in 2016, Demario McCall was essentially the backup to starting running back Mike Weber.
Of course, with the Buckeyes having JT Barrett at quarterback and Curtis Samuel at H-back, McCall was still no better than the fourth option on the ground.
He finished fourth on the team with 49 rushing attempts for 270 yards and three touchdowns. His 5.5 yards per carry were impressive because most of his time came in blowouts when he was simply being run into the teeth of a defensive line that knew he was coming.
McCall also added four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown that year as well. He only played in six games, however.
As a sophomore, he dealt with injuries for most of the season and played in just four games. He rushed for 111 yards on 14 attempts and caught two passes for 51 yards. Most of that production came against Rutgers, and even after rushing for 103 yards and catching a 35-yard touchdown pass against the Scarlet Knights, head coach Urban Meyer said afterward that this still wasn’t the Demario McCall at his healthiest.
McCall moved to H-back prior to last season and played in nine games, catching nine passes for 110 yard and rushing eight times for 50 yards.
If McCall can finally escape his injuries in the same way Johnnie Dixon finally did, then a similar impact can be made as well.
What He Does Well
McCall is fast, elusive, and now experienced as both a running back and receiver.
As a running back, we saw him used in the passing game last year against Michigan when he beat All-American middle linebacker Devin Bush on a wheel route. He is also able to run routes like a wide receiver in the slot, which makes him even more dangerous against linebackers and safeties.
After the catch, he reverts back to his running back ways and uses his vision to avoid tacklers.
McCall doesn’t need much room to make plays, or even many opportunities. Of his 30 touches last season, seven went at least 20 yards.
Demario McCall In 2019
McCall didn’t take part in spring practice because of a calf injury, which frustrated both player and coaches.
If healthy, however, there are definitely plans for him in this offense in 2019.
Ryan Day has talked about using him once again like they did against Michigan last season, and it is expected that there would be other packages in place for him as well.
But he is also more than just a package player. If healthy, he will be one of the guys vying for carries when JK Dobbins takes a breather.
McCall has shown an ability to make plays whenever he is given the opportunity to do so, and he can do it in the backfield or the slot.
He is versatile enough to complement any kind of personnel package, and talented enough to make plays from anywhere on the field.
McCall could also be involved in the return game this season, though it has been years since anybody made plays there for the Buckeyes.
What They Are Saying
“He brings the knowledge of the offense for one. So he can be a matchup nightmare. Here’s a guy who is adept at running routes, truly understands the ins-and-outs of the concepts from the receiver position. Obviously understands it from the running back perspective as well. He had to gain some weight which he has done and is doing. But he can be a matchup nightmare. You put him in the backfield and shift him out into some empty sets and make linebackers go out there and cover him. That’s a matchup problem.” — Running backs coach Tony Alford on what Demario McCall brings to the Ohio State offense.
“You can say, ‘be patient, be patient, wait your turn.’ Why? As far as playing goes, a lot of times in a zone scheme you have to have some patience about some things versus just going like a racehorse. And those are learned traits. Those are learned behaviors. And he’s really done a nice job. Demario is a highly-skilled player, we’ve always known that. But just kind of in-between what is he really, really elite at versus really good at. So we’re trying to hone that in. There’s a valuable place for him in our offense with what we’re doing. And the energy that he brings every day is amazing.” — Tony Alford on Demario McCall
“We’d like to get him a role. We want to get him out on the field so we can get him a role. He’s got a lot of versatility. You saw at the end of the season, we used him in a lot of different ways to get matchup problems for the defense, so we’d like to get that going.” — Head coach Ryan Day on finding Demario McCall a role this season.