Demario McCall, Gee Scott Jr. experimenting at new positions in Ohio State spring practice
For the first time in more than a year, a limited number of media covering Ohio State football were permitted to watch a portion of practice on Friday.
The Woody Hayes Athletic Center has been off-limits to non-OSU personnel since spring practice last year was abruptly ended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporters were allowed to watch less than 30 minutes of practice Friday.
The Buckeyes finished practice with full-team drills that lasted about 50 plays, coach Ryan Day said. But the portion open to the media was limited to kicking drills and position-group drills.
Quarterbacks C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord, who are competing to succeed Justin Fields, did make some throws. They took reps in that order, which might have limited significance. Day has been careful not to indicate a leader in that competition.
A couple of players were at new spots. Redshirt freshman Gee Scott Jr. worked with the tight ends in a possible move from wide receiver. Fifth-year senior Demario McCall, who has never found a consistent role on offense as a running back or receiver, is taking reps now as a cornerback, specifically as a nickel corner.
Day said the players initiated those shifts, and he's excited about their potential at their new spots.
"It's so cool when you see somebody bring it to you, as opposed to a coach bringing it to the player," Day said of switching positions.
Scott is listed at 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds and has the frame to add more bulk. Ohio State is loaded with talented young receivers behind Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Jeremy Ruckert is the No. 1 tight end, but behind him it's unsettled.
"He's a very mature young man who sees a future in that for him," Day said of Scott as a tight end. "Whether we go full time with it or not, we'll see. But he's got the right idea on this thing.
"He has the right frame. He's very, very athletic, and he thinks that (offensive coordinator/tight ends coach) Kevin Wilson can really teach him how to block. He wants to do it. So we're very, very excited about it. We think it's a huge opportunity for him."
Day said Scott was having trouble maintaining his weight at 215 pounds.
"He said, 'If I just have a few Big Macs, I can get to 225 in a heartbeat,'" Day said. "So we think that his growth potential fits that of a tight end."
As for McCall, Day said he could help at cornerback. Sevyn Banks and Cam Brown are both out this spring because of injuries.
Day said McCall impressed early in the spring as a cornerback.
"This is a huge opportunity for him," he said, "and playing in that nickel spot 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.
"So we're excited about it, and he's shown good leadership as an upperclassman. We're going to find out through the end of spring if this is something that's real, but all indications early on are that he's going to help us on the defensive side."
Olave was among those not participating in practice Friday. Day said he was one of several players battling a stomach bug, but said it was not COVID-related.
Ryan Day defends Justin Fields
Day praised the work ethic of Justin Fields, pushing back on recent criticism leveled against the former Buckeyes quarterback ahead of this month’s NFL draft.
Dan Orlovsky, an ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback, reported feedback from unnamed league insiders who were questioning Fields’ passion for the sport and dedication.
“He's been one of the hardest-working guys, he’s been one of the most competitively tough guys, and when he sets his mind to something, he gets it done,” Day said. “There's been a lot of talk out there, and maybe they think they know him better than I do, but I know this: whoever drafts Justin Fields is going to get a great player and a great person.”
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