COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel declared for the NFL draft, the common thinking was that freshman running back Demario McCall would convert to H-back by the start of his sophomore season.
“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.”
What’s happened through three spring practice sessions is that McCall has largely remained practicing with the Buckeyes running backs. It’s worth noting that the media have only been permitted to view about an hour-and-a-half of practice, but in that time McCall has yet to venture away from his first position group.
Traditionally, Ohio State H-backs such as Samuel and Dontre Wilson have primarily practiced with the wideouts. With McCall, that could be occurring behind close doors, but thus far there’s nothing to indicate a conversion to ‘H’ is underway.
Ohio State’s spring practice program officially lists McCall as a running back. In his freshman campaign, the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder tallied 354 total yards (270 rushing, 84 receiving) and 4 touchdowns, while displaying a diverse skill set that would seemingly make for a perfect fit in Urban Meyer’s “Percy Harvin position.”
Obviously the Buckeyes are barely one-fifth through their 15 spring practices, so plenty can change between now and the start of the season. But McCall remaining with the running backs could indicate Ohio State is considering other options when it comes to replacing its top offensive player.
Some candidates to keep in mind include redshirt junior Parris Campbell and recently converted defensive back Eric Glover-Williams. Early-enrollee J.K. Dobbins also possesses an H-back-like skill set, but has primarily practiced with the running backs in periods open to the media.
Ultimately, the H-back position is a running back-wide receiver hybrid, so perhaps there’s not much to read into where McCall is practicing.
Regardless of where he’s lining up, it’s a safe bet that the now-sophomore will figure prominently into Ohio State’s offensive game plan in 2017.