Football

What Makes Ohio State’s Specialists So… Special?

Ohio State football Drue Chrisman Liam McCullough Roen McCullough

A football team is made up of players from different backgrounds, with different life experiences, and different personalities.

If you’re not a future first-round NFL Draft pick, it’s not always easy to stand out on the field or in the locker room.

But some of the biggest personalities on the 2019 Ohio State football team belong to players who are on the field less than almost any other starter.

The photo at the top of this article is from Sunday’s Photo Day at Ohio Stadium.

If you’re not familiar with the works of either Michaelangelo or Buster and George Bluth, they’re recreating “The Creation of Adam.”

They also remade the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, and honored… uhhh… the ancient Egyptians… with a pyramid.

It’s just the latest example of Ohio State’s specialists turning a little bit of creativity into social media gold.

Punter Drue Chrisman and long snapper Liam McCullough have converted simple items like water bottles and t-shirts into online stardom.

McCullough is one of the best long snappers in the nation. At a position where you generally only get noticed if something goes wrong, the fifth-year senior has been as automatic and thus invisible on the field as anyone in the country.

“In my opinion, a really bad snap is anything that’s really not on Drue’s waist,” McCullough said. “During practice so far, I’ve had one that by my standards was a bad snap because I had one that was around his chin.”

But while McCullough’s play has made him both an asset and an afterthought on the field, he was able to use nothing more than a t-shirt and a remarkable commitment to the bit to become a social media star.

Every year, he shows up at fall camp check-in day wearing a shirt with a photo from the previous year’s check-in day on it.

By the time his fifth check-in rolled around this month, it was a sensation.

Chrisman vaulted to online fame first by flipping, and later kicking water bottles.

Although a recent change in the bottled water supply inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is presenting some challenges.

“We were with the Giant Eagle brand for quite a while and we did switch it to Dasani. Not too not too happy about it. They didn’t consult me on that switch,” Chrisman said.

Then, earlier this summer, McCullough and Chrisman teamed up for a new video, again co-starring a water bottle.

This time, McCullough was spinning the lid off of the bottles simply by snapping a football.

He said it took roughly 90 minutes to film the entire video and just “five or six tries” to get the double shot done. But other attempts presented more of a challenge.

“The hardest one was one where he is holding it in his mouth,” McCullough said. “I didn’t want to hit him in the side of the head. So we I kind of started with the ball a little high and kind of over time, brought it down.”

The videos capture the players’ quirky sense of humor, but don’t overlook the skill involved. The same precision that allows McCullough to spin the lids off of two water bottles using just a snapped football is also what makes him one of the best in the nation at what he does.

And to the specialists, those two things go hand-in-hand.

“The way that Coach (Urban) Meyer puts it and the way that Coach (Ryan) Day now puts it, is the sign of a great team is the ability to have fun but then lock in when they need to lock in,” said McCullough. “So we like to have fun and we like to goof around a little bit, but we pride ourselves on really being able to lock in when we need to lock in, especially when it comes to our jobs.”

So in some cases what looks like college kids just goofing off can actually pay off on the field during games.

“The standard is so high here that it’s nice to have a little fun,” McCullough said. “Things like the bottle cap challenge or trick shots; It’s fun, but also these are difficult skills. Kicking, punting, and snapping, it’s hard to do.

“Take a ball from however far away and hit something that big. It takes a lot of precision and a lot of finesse and touch so it is fun but it’s also getting you to be a better snapper. They say aim small, miss small and that’s the best way to do it. You’ve got a tiny little target.”

Chrisman has one year of eligibility left after this fall, but McCullough will move on after the 2019 season.

But the McCullough family legacy of long-snapping and viral videos will live on. Liam’s younger brother Roen is already on the team, and projected to take over long-snapping duties in 2020.

And he has already added his own contributions to the specialist unit’s off-field highlight reel.

One Response

  1. They look like a tight knit group having fun- good stuff.

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