SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When you talk to Demario McCall, a certain aura seems to emanate from the Ohio State running back.
It’s a delightful mixture of confidence and pure joy. McCall, however, has a different word for it.
“Swag,” he can often be heard saying, seemingly using the slang simultaneously as an adjective, noun and verb.
“Just me growing up, man. Just being around with my buddies, my friends and family,” he says of the origin of his carefree attitude. “We all goofy. We all just like, outgoing.”
That mindset — or, “swag,” as he would say — has already resulted in a cult following among the Buckeyes fan base. In fact, there’s already a Twitter account dedicated solely to pictures of the reserve freshman running back.
One picture, however, has been more popular than the rest. Whenever he breaks a big play, it doesn’t take long for an infamous photo of McCall wearing a blue Adidas sweatsuit while sitting atop an orange dirt bike to pop up across the Buckeyes’ Twittersphere.
DeMario McCall is truly the GOAT pic.twitter.com/iOtGgcRtKD
— Demario McCall Pics (@DemarioPics) November 13, 2016
The story behind the shot?
“That was my first 250 (dirt bike),” he told Land of 10 with a smile. “I was like 16 in that picture. It was on my birthday and my father had bought me that orange dirt bike.”
The North Ridgeville, Ohio, native estimated he’s been riding dirt bikes since he was 7 years old. In other words, he’s always had a habit of going fast.
That’s continued in his college career, where in just limited opportunities, McCall has shown flashes of becoming the next star player in Urban Meyer’s offense. With 53 offensive touches to his credit in 2016, McCall tallied 354 yards, including 270 rushing and 84 receiving, in addition to scoring four touchdowns.
“He gets through the hole quick,” Buckeyes quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck said of McCall earlier this season. “He has the ability to take one to the house at any time.”
By any reasonable expectation, potential was probably all McCall was going to be able to showcase this season. In an offense that already featured Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber, touches were always going to be hard to come by.
While what he was able to show managed to whet the appetite of the Ohio State fan base, only McCall truly knows how much more he still has to show.
“I feel like I had an all right year. I feel like I could’ve did better,” he says. “But other than that, I’m all right with it. But next year, I should come out way better, stronger, faster and ready to compete.”
That’s why McCall will spend his offseason in the weight room, having already packed on 15 pounds since arriving at Ohio State weighing a lean 175 and looking to add 10 more to his 5-foot-9 frame.
As Samuel eyes a potential jump to the NFL, McCall knows an opening could be available at one of the premier positions in the Buckeyes offense. Given his ability and versatility, McCall appears to be a perfect fit as an H-back — aka “the Percy Harvin position.”
“Heading into my sophomore year, I’ll be more like an H-back and punt returner and kick returner,” he said. “And from there, whatever happens, happens.”
If you think McCall possesses superstar potential, you’re not alone. Perhaps unsurprisingly, so does he.
While the true freshman was more than happy to talk to reporters off to the side at Ohio State’s College Football Playoff semifinal Fiesta Bowl media day, he insists it won’t be long before he has a podium of his own as he prepares to take center stage in the Buckeyes offense.
“I think about that a lot — I think about that a whole lot,” he says. “I do want to be that guy. And I will be that guy. One day.”
And while that day may be here as soon as next season, don’t go out and buy a No. 30 jersey just yet. McCall says that next season, he’ll wear a single digit jersey number — likely the No. 2 he wore throughout his high school career and is currently occupied by Buckeyes senior Dontre Wilson.
The reason for the switch?
“Swag,” McCall says with a smile that never seems to stop.