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How does Demario McCall fit into Ohio State offensive plans?

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Ohio State offensive weapon Demario McCall is still waiting for a breakout moment with the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

How does Demario McCall fit into Ohio State offensive plans?

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 about 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 the potential for Demario McCall as part of Running Back Week? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

There is no denying the athleticism or potential with Demario McCall.

And if the debate about using him at Ohio State was just about his blinding speed to run away from defenders, dizzying moves to make them miss or versatility as a hybrid offensive weapon, that obviously wouldn’t be a lengthy discussion.

It’s just not that simple with the redshirt junior for a variety of reasons, though, including some that don’t have anything to do with how unlucky he’s been when it comes to injuries. Certainly his health and availability are a significant factor when it comes to getting McCall on the field and making plans that involve him either at running back or H-back, and that popped up again during spring camp when he was limited and unable to show what we can give the Buckeyes.

But McCall has also had ball-security issues during his career when he’s been able to play, and that short-circuited his effort to carve out a role as a returner on special teams last season. It might even be more meaningful in the evaluation of where he fits for Ohio State moving forward than his injury history given how fierce the competition for playing time is going to be at the skill positions this season.

Demario McCall-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State running back Demario McCall is facing stiff competition for playing time. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

If Jaelen Gill continues emerging as a multipurpose threat capable of lining up in the backfield, taking handoffs on jet sweeps or catching passes in the slot, that’s another potential hurdle for McCall to clear to get into the rotation. If Master Teague keeps flashing pull-away speed while also bringing a more physical presence at tailback, the Buckeyes might not need to work in multiple guys behind J.K. Dobbins at the position. And when it comes to lining up as a slot receiver, Ohio State already has K.J. Hill and C.J. Saunders bringing more experience and consistency there, which again puts the onus on McCall to build a clear-cut case that he should be involved.

None of this is meant to suggest that McCall can’t make a move and finally have the kind of long-awaited breakthrough that Ohio State expected when he arrived on campus. And it’s certainly not his fault that the injury bug won’t leave him alone, continually biting him at inopportune times. There’s also no question that somebody with McCall’s infectious personality, willingness to do anything for the program and the ability to perform at a championship level deserves to be rewarded at some point.

But the path to a regular role at Ohio State has never been smooth, and Demario McCall still has plenty of work ahead of him heading into what could be a make-or-break training camp in August.


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Dee McCallTim MasonmoopdawgRainy Day Recent comment authors
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Rainy Day
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Rainy Day

Just a gut feeling but I don’t see DeMario ever being a big part of the offense. I’m fairly sure I’ve heard “DeMario is poised for a breakout year” for decades at this point.

moopdawg
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moopdawg

If he’s healthy, just make sure the kid gets the ball, like 5 to 8 times. Chances are, one of those will be a homerun. The dude is bad (as in good). I’m obviously a big fan of the kid. Go, D!!!

Tim Mason
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Tim Mason

Best field vision of anybody on the team. That’s been true for the last couple of years. I hope the kid can breakout.

Dee McCall
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Dee McCall

McCall STRONG, Whats for you, is for you, Keep GOD first, he will prevail. Wishing you much SUCCESS!!!!

Peace and Blessings

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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