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Freshman Demario McCall Playing Himself Into More Opportunities
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — When Demario McCall signed with Ohio State in the 2016 recruiting class there were plenty of people who thought he would need a redshirt year in order to fill out.

Still listed at 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, however, the filling out will continue having to wait because the freshman running back from North Ridgeville may have just played his way into a much larger role on this team.

McCall came into the game at running back for a slightly-injured Mike Weber with nine minutes to play in the third quarter against Nebraska on Saturday night and when it was all over, he ended up leading the Buckeyes in rushing with 73 yards on 16 carries (4.6 ypc).

While the average wasn't great, McCall was working against a defense that was down by over 40 points, so they had a pretty good idea that the Buckeyes were going to run the ball when they had it.

"Demario looked great, didn't he?" Urban Meyer said after the game.

Is it possible that McCall could begin playing for a larger role in this offense?

"He might now," Meyer said.

While it is going to be difficult to find carries for McCall in normal circumstances because you're either going to have to bypass Mike Weber or Curtis Samuel running the ball, Buckeye fans could begin seeing more of McCall as the team's primary punt returner.

One play prior to coming in for Weber against Nebraska, McCall was sent back to return a punt, which he did well, picking up 15 yards. It was his first punt return since the Rutgers game. Given Dontre Wilson's struggles fielding punts over the last month, it looks like Saturday night's audition may have won him the job full time.

"He's probably going to be our punt returner," Meyer said on Saturday. "I'm going to evaluate that over this next few days, but I thought he was very good."

Granted, the overwhelming bulk of McCall's production has come in blowout wins over Bowling Green (90 all-purpose yards), Rutgers (84 all-purpose yards), and Nebraska (88 all-purpose yards), but he has shown that if you give him an opportunity, he'll do something with it.

"You saw, he gets to the hole quick," quarterbacks coach Tim Beck said. "He has the ability to take one to the house any time."

Beck then decided to put McCall into lofty company.

"He’s probably similar to a young Curtis Samuel," he said. "Curtis was a little bit like that when he was a freshman, feeling his way through, but he did some really nice things tonight."

And due to his production when given the opportunity, just maybe he'll get to do some really nice things next week as well.

Player profiles relevant to story:
30 - McCall, Demario
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