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Demario McCall Readying for a Much Larger Contribution This Year
By Tony Gerdeman

Demario McCall carried the ball 49 times last year and also caught four passes. He played in six games in 2016, mostly after the Buckeyes had built a very comfortable lead. He rushed for 270 yards (5.5 avg) despite spending much of his time simply running the ball up the middle because the OSU offense was trying to run out the clock.

McCall may still be used in 2017 to burn the clock, but he is also going to be on the field in each of the first three quarters as well. He is currently battling with freshman J.K. Dobbins to be Mike Weber's backup, but he has shown over the winter and in the spring that he's ready to contribute in as many ways as his coaches can come up with.

"He’s really done well," running backs coach Tony Alford said. "He’s gained a bunch of weight. He’s 192, 193, in that range and you’re talking about a guy who came in here 170 pounds less than a calendar year ago, so he’s doing well. He’s a guy that’s very explosive and we’ve got to find ways to get him on the field and get him moving around."

Last year, McCall showed that explosion on outside plays, but in order to see the field more consistently this year, he had to add weight and muscle to be explosive inside as well.

"I don’t think that he was prepared to play any long stretches last year because I don’t think his strength level would have allowed that," Alford said. "Now, I think we’re getting to that point. That’s what the spring is for, to improve."

McCall has gained 20 pounds since he arrived and is adamant that he hasn't lost any of his speed. He saw for himself how limited he was last season, which significantly cut into his playing time. He went into the offseason with a plan to make sure his coaches would know that he is ready for more responsibility this year.

"That motivated me to go even harder, to come to practice and do what I’ve been doing, having a great spring and keep going," McCall said.

"I’m going to stay confident, stay positive, whatever it is so when my number is called I’m going to go out there and do my best."

The speculation since McCall committed to Ohio State was that he would eventually end up at H-back. To this point, however, every rep that McCall has taken as a Buckeye has been at running back, and McCall is perfectly fine with that.

"I actually like tailback," he said. "I’ve got to get better at pass blocking but tailback is where I feel comfortable."

According to McCall, Alford wanted him to focus on running back in the spring, and then perhaps in the summer they will get him a look in the slot a bit. When asked if he expects McCall to move to H over the summer, however, Alford had a simple answer: "No."

McCall isn't entirely sure which position he will be playing in the fall, but he's also not concerned about it at the moment. He's too busy trying to be the best running back he can be. By remaining focused on the task at hand and working hard, he believes it will help him adapt to whatever else may come his way.

"To be honest just be ready when your number is called," he said. "It’s called competitive excellence. So whenever they tell me go out there in the slot, that’s when I’m going to go out there in the slot and do what I’m going to do."

Player profiles relevant to story:
30 - McCall, Demario
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