The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Ryan Day and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Demario McCall? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
What u think of Demario McCalls chances of contributing next year? He is fan favorite and seems like he is just waiting to breakout, but I believe ‘19 is his final season. If all things are equal or even close do u think Gill or some of the younger guys move past him?
— KyBuckeye ⭕️🌰 (@BuckeyeKy) January 22, 2019
There has always been something that has done just enough to hold Demario McCall back from having the kind of impact that has long been projected for the multipurpose Ohio State offensive weapon.
Some of it has been his fault, like dealing with ball-security issues early last season when the Buckeyes were planning to feature him on special teams. Some of it he had no control over, most notably the groin injury that was more severe than he initially let on two seasons ago while trying to play through pain that occasionally made it hard to even run. And then there’s been the shuffling of positions, which probably didn’t make it easy for McCall while he was working through the development process and simply trying to find a way to help Ohio State.
But the dynamic speed, dangerous elusiveness and invaluable versatility are all still there in McCall, waiting to potentially be unleashed. And this set of offseason workouts and the upcoming spring camp will be critical for him if that’s truly going to happen with the Buckeyes, because the clock is ticking and there is going to be heated competition yet again for reps at the skill positions.
“That experience for me was great,” McCall said after the Rose Bowl. “I feel like I’ve built the trust of the coaches to put me in the game — especially big games like thus. I just feel like what I did was build my way into a huge role next year. Just looking forward to the future.
“I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the team. I’ve got big shoes to fill, but just being the athlete I am … expect a bigger role.”
The Buckeyes aren’t just going to hand him one, but McCall was showing signs at the end of the season that he had earned the opportunity to help again with the football in his hands.
He finished his redshirt sophomore campaign with just 17 total touches on offense, but seven of them came in the final four games of the season with Ohio State pushing to win the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl. And while that isn’t exactly the kind of workload that has at various times been projected for a player who can line up in the backfield as a rushing threat just as easily as he can be a factor as a receiver in the slot, it can still be viewed as a sign of progress.
Is that going to be enough to chip away at carries as Master Teague gears up for his second season with the program at tailback? Does the skillset McCall brings to the table trump what Jaelen Gill might offer at the do-it-all H-back position? Can McCall find the reliability that the Buckeyes were hoping for last year when they looked to tap into his explosiveness on special teams in the return game?
Those are all pressing questions for Demario McCall, because there is no denying the potential he can bring to Ohio State. But the Buckeyes can’t really afford to wait much longer in his career to find out the answer.
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