Buckeyes not done experimenting with Demario McCall, trying defense now

Spencer Holbrook6 months
Demario McCall by Birm-Lettermen Row
Demario McCall is trying a defensive role for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

COLUMBUS — Demario McCall has tried for years to find his way onto the field at Ohio State.

During his five seasons in the program, McCall has played H-back. He was a running back. Last spring, he took reps at wide receiver and caught a couple of passes in the fall. But he’s never truly stuck at one position. Even as a return specialist, he’s been met with mixed results.

With one bonus year of eligibility remaining, McCall is trying one last position in an effort to find playing time. But now, he’s flipping to the other side of the ball. McCall was spotted repping with the defensive backs during the Buckeyes first open practice of the spring Friday morning, a sign that the sixth-year senior could be making a permanent change to the secondary.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day confirmed the move shortly after practice, a position swap defensive players and coaches are excited about.

“The defensive guys have been really excited about him,” Day said. “He’s really shown up in practice. This is something that he brought up. It’s so cool when you see somebody bring it to you as opposed to a coach bringing it to a player. It kind of started off early on and the guys on defense saw him do a few drills, and he caught their eye right off the bat. He’s been building and learning. It takes time to change positions like that. I know he’s done some different things before on offense, but this is a huge opportunity for him, playing in that nickel spot right now. It’s something that he’s shown some good flashes early on.

“He’s got to keep learning but he’s had a great offseason, probably the best offseason he’s had. Tremendous feedback from [Mickey Marotti] and strength and conditioning. We’re excited about it. He’s shown good leadership as an upperclassman. We’re going to find out through the end of spring if this is something that is real. All indications early on is that he’s going to be able to help us on the defensive side.”

Demario McCall-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State wide receiver Demario McCall could be better-suited for playing time on defense. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

McCall has been developed a fan-following during his time with the Buckeyes, but various in-game and off-field blunders and practice habits have made it difficult for the super senior to find time in a loaded running back room — or a deep, talented stable of wide receivers. McCall has exploded in garbage time when the Buckeyes have played lesser competition, but has never put it all together for a consistent spot.

A position change could be good for McCall as he battles to find a role. His offseason work ethic has shown he’s willing do to anything to be on the field this fall.

“I thought Demario’s attitude and work ethic had been really, really good this offseason,” Day said. “Off the charts. Very impressed with him. It hasn’t always gone the way Demario has wanted his career to go, and to try to find a role in the offseason, he’s tried some different things. We’ll continue to look to find that, but if he continues to work the way he does and keeps a great attitude, then good things are going to happen for him.”

Good things can still happen for Demario McCall. If they do happen for the super-senior, they’ll likely come on the defensive side of the ball after trying nearly every other skill positions.

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