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Ohio State: Are Buckeyes abandoning hybrid ‘Percy Harvin’ position?

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Mike Drennen could be the next player in line to play the H-back position at Ohio State. (Mike Drennen/Twitter)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State: Are Buckeyes abandoning hybrid ‘Percy Harvin’ position?

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today we’re talking about how Ohio State’s offensive adaptation could change the way it recruits.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

In many ways, Ohio State right now is going to look a lot like the program that Urban Meyer built. If you follow the official accounts on social media, you’ll see many of the same mantras and talking points being used by Ryan Day and his staff as they look to promote the idea that things aren’t changing at Ohio State.

But as much as Day’s staff is pushing that things are the same as ever at Ohio State, there are going to be some changes. Anybody who watched the offense in the last two years saw some of that. The Buckeyes have adapted their offense to concepts that Day brought with him from the NFL, and that’s enabled that unit to evolve using Meyer’s offensive principles as a base.

That means, yes, the famed “Percy Harvin” position has been dialed back a touch, and I assume when the question is asked, that’s the H-back role that is being referenced. When it became the centerpiece of Meyer’s offense at Florida, it was out of necessity because the program lacked a game-breaking running back or an elite passing quarterback who could take advantage of dangerous outside receivers down the field.

Both the most recent and current Ohio State team has those things. Because of that, there’s been less need for a hybrid-type player to fill the roll and get the touches. The Buckeyes have had plenty of players who could do it, but they haven’t really utilized someone as a combination running back/receiver since 2016 when Curtis Samuel did it. And as long as they have quarterbacks who can get the ball down the field accurately, I don’t think that’s how Ohio State will use guys like Demario McCall in the future.

Yes, they’ll send him out of the backfield in the passing game. But if the Buckeyes are going to run the football, usually it’s going to be J.K. Dobbins, Master Teague, Marcus Crowley or the true running backs — not the Harvin, Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey-type that Meyer deployed.

Ohio State is quickly becoming an offense predicated on pro-style concepts, and that means there may be a move toward more defined, traditional roles for its athletes. But like any good coach, Day will adjust his offense to fit his personnel, and the Buckeyes aren’t going to abandon the need for receivers who are more comfortable in the slot or can be an asset in the end-around, motion and screen game like Parris Campbell was.

That’s why players like Mike Drennen, Jutahn McClain, A.J. Henning and L.V. Bunkley-Shelton are still on the Ohio State radar even though the first two are running backs in high school and the second pair are receivers. They can all play in different spots in the offense.

Will the H-back position go away? Not entirely, but like everything else post-Urban Meyer, it will be evolved.

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Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.