COLUMBUS — Two Ohio State football players who were once among the stars of their recruiting classes are experimenting with playing new positions during the Buckeyes’ spring practices.
Demario McCall, who is heading into his sixth season at OSU, has switched to defense. And Gee Scott Jr., a redshirt freshman who was ranked the No. 12 receiver nationally in the 2020 recruiting class, is getting some practice time at tight end.
McCall arrived at Ohio State in 2016 as a 4-star running back recruit. He has been a running back, a wide receiver and a kick returner but has never found a full-time role. Now, he is practicing as a defensive back.
Scott was a 4-star recruit in 2020. But wide receiver might be the most loaded position on the Buckeyes’ roster.
Last year’s two top receivers, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, are back and so is Jameson Williams, who might be the fastest receiver on the roster. Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, in their second year at Ohio State, were both 5-star recruits. And there are also incoming freshmen Emeka Egbuka, a 5-star recruit, and Marvin Harrison Jr., a 4-star and son of a Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver.
Both players suggested the changes rather than it being a from the top down decision.
“Gee kind of came to us and said he’d thought about having conversations about possibly doing some tight end stuff. We thought it was a great idea. He’s a very mature young man who sees a future in that for him,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on a Zoom conference call on Friday.
“Whether we go full-time with it or not, we’ll see. He’s got the right idea on this thing, he’s got the right frame. He’s very, very athletic. He thinks (assistant coach) Kevin Wilson can really teach him how to block and he wants to do it. We’re very, very excited about it.”
Scott currently weighs around 215 pounds but thinks he can add the weight necessary to play tight end.
“He was doing everything he could to stay at 215. He said, ‘I’m fighting every day to stay at 215. I have a few Big Macs and I get to 225 in a heartbeat.’ We think his growth potential fits that of a tight end,” Day said.
McCall carried the ball once, caught one pass and returned five kicks last season.
“The defensive guys (coaches) have been really excited about him. He has really shown up in practice. This is something again that he kind of brought up,” Day said..
“He has done some things for us on offense but this is a huge opportunity for him. He has shown some flashes. 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 is going to be able to help us on the defensive side.”
Day said players have to be comfortable about changing positions to make it work.
“It’s so cool when you see someone bring it to you as opposed to a coach bringing it to the player. My approach is that I want to do what they feel comfortable with. If they’re not comfortable playing a position we won’t do it. It wasn’t like I told Demario McCall you have to go to defense or I told Gee Scott you have to move to tight end,” Day said.
“There are times, like when we talked to Cade Stover about moving to tight end, that I brought it to his attention. I saw some skills in him I thought really translated well to tight end. And he agreed. If they’re not into it, we’re not going to do that. But if we ever get in a situation where we need someone to do something, that’s a different deal.”