Demario McCall has been practicing exclusively at running back as a backup to returning starter Mike Weber in Ohio State’s spring drills this month, but McCall believes a slide to hybrid back is coming in the fall.
With highly productive hybrid back Curtis Samuel headed to the NFL, most observers expected the speedy McCall to be in that slot from the start this month.
“Probably in fall camp they’ll move me out to the slot, get me more reps in the slot,” McCall said after practice Thursday morning.
Since reporting at 175 pounds as a freshman last year, when he played primarily in mop-up situations, McCall is up to 195 and looks more the part of a running back. He and early enrollee freshman J.K. Dobbins are battling for the No. 2 spot behind Weber, coach Urban Meyer said this week, while receiver Parris Campbell and others have been getting work at hybrid.
But McCall said the possibility of being used as a hybrid in the fall won’t be like learning a new language.
“The tailback stuff that we do, it goes along with the H-back stuff,” McCall said. “I’m learning them both, but I’m not actually in the slot yet.”
He’s confident he can handle it.
“To be honest, it’s just be ready when your number’s called, it’s part of competitive excellence,” McCall said. “So whenever they tell me, ‘Go out there in the slot,’ I’m going to go out there in the slot and do what I do.”
Speaking of numbers, he’s been wearing No. 30 since he arrived last year, and he’s had that jersey this spring. But he said he will switch to No. 2 for the upcoming season.
That’s the number Dobbins has at the moment. Considering that two offensive players can’t wear the same number, what will Dobbins have in the fall? McCall shrugged, smiled and said, “I’m not sure.”
Other shoes to fill
Malik Hooker also is headed for the NFL after a standout performance last season, leaving one of the safety spots up for grabs. Jordan Fuller, who saw some action last year, would appear to be the heir apparent, but with Erick Smith and others also in the mix, Fuller is taking nothing for granted and has a simple approach to spring drills.
“Really, just put it all together, run fast, tackle hard, cover guys, make plays,” Fuller said. He added, “I’m just trying to compete my butt off, do the best I can do.”