COLUMBUS â€” Demario McCall has one more season to make an impact at Ohio State.
But don’t expect that to come from the running back position.
Of course, injuries happen over the course of a football season. And the Buckeyes are already dealing with two backs still in rehab from previous injuries. But the need for McCall to receive any carries out of the backfield this season seems to dwindle as the offseason rolls along.
â€œYeah, weâ€™re one injury away from a little bit of a crisis right now,â€ DayÂ said. â€œBut in the end when it comes to September, weâ€™re going to be OK.â€
Day said that before Trey Sermon transferred out of Oklahoma and into the Ohio State offense, giving the Buckeyes some star power, a much-needed boost and making the need for McCall at running back even smaller. Sermon recognized the crisis Day was referring to, and he pounced on the idea of playing in the Buckeyes’ prolific offense. He filled a massive hole in the process.
â€œI just believe itâ€™s the best situation for me,â€ Sermon toldÂ Lettermen Row. â€œI know that I have the opportunity to play there considering the depth, and I had a relationship with [running backs coach Tony] Alford during my recruiting process coming out of high school.”
There certainly will be others who receive carries beyond Sermon and electric quarterback Justin Fields, but McCall won’t be needed in a backup role, either. Ohio State returns Master Teague, who was No. 7 in the Big Ten in rushing yards last season. After an Achilles injury in spring practice, Teague seems to be on the right track to be back for some portion of the season.
The Buckeyes also have Steele Chambers and Marcus Crowley, who are trying to take a leap forward in their second season in the program. Both backs will have their shot at running back, even if those chances come in blowouts.
â€œI think [Crowley and Steele Chambers] are going to be really good players here,â€ Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said last season. â€œTheyâ€™re hungry to learn, theyâ€™re getting better â€¦ and theyâ€™re learning what college football is all about. Just the attention to detail thatâ€™s necessary every single day â€” and not for just certain spurts within the day, but all day. How important it is to take care of your body and to study the game away from the field.â€
Even with the depth at running back, more injuries could happen. For now, McCall’s role in the offense will come split out in the slot.
That won’t keep him out of the running back spot if the dire situation arrises and the Buckeyes need a ball-carrier. McCall will be ready. But he most likely won’t be needed.
â€œDemario can still do [running back], though,â€ Day said last week before the Teague injury. â€œWeâ€™re just starting him out at slot, and we can always bring him back. He has that skill set. Itâ€™s something that weâ€™ve always tried to find that role for him where he can be a running back and also be a matchup problem for teams like that.
â€œThis spring heâ€™s going to play some running back. Heâ€™s going to line up at slot and do both of those things.Â But, yeah, weâ€™re going to get Marcus [Crowley] back before the season starts. And then we have Miyan [Williams] coming in. Once we get to the summer, weâ€™ll be whole.â€