"In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest." ~ William McKinley
I have to give some props to President McKinley. Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.
To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement. While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let's be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.
As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year's Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so. Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football began in Columbus on March 7th.
"The health of our program is very strong, other than getting our ass kicked in that last game." Urban Meyer addressing Ohio Coaches.— Eric Frantz (@jjhuddlenews) February 3, 2017
For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.
4th - 'H' Backs
Players Lost: Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson
Returning Players/Incoming Players: Demario McCall (Sophomore), Parris Campbell (Redshirt Junior), Eric Glover-Williams (Redshirt Sophomore), Johnnie Dixon (Redshirt Junior), K.J. Hill (Redshirt Sophomore), J.K. Dobbins (Freshman)
A few things to keep in mind for this position group...
- My rationale for placing the 'H' Back position in this high of a priority lies in the following statistics ~ Curtis Samuel played 'H' Back in 2016, and accounted for 1636 yards running and receiving, plus a total of 15 touchdowns. That is an awful lot of offensive production that Ohio State will need to replicate, with Samuel off to the NFL.
- Demario McCall would seem to be a leading replacement candidate for the 'H' Back position heading into the 2017 season. Having seen McCall play in high school, and watching McCall's performance as a true freshman in 2016, McCall certainly has the agility and shiftiness that the 'H' Back position would value. So far in spring practices, McCall has played running back exclusively, and not at 'H' Back.
- Could Parris Campbell be the starting 'H' Back? Campbell was a high school running back, and was moved to wide receiver when he arrived on campus in 2014. While Campbell has had some moments as a kickoff returner, Campbell has not emerged as a consistent receiving option. Playing 'H' Back would allow Campbell to play a position that could get the ball into his hands quicker on jet sweeps and other perimeter plays. Based upon the link above, and through other media reports so far about Ohio State spring football, Campbell has been lining up in the slot position.
- Eric Glover-Williams made a move from the secondary to the offense for 2017. Glover-Williams could be another option at 'H' Back, in many of the same ways Campbell could be used.
- K.J. Hill may be another option. Hill did not carry the ball as a runner in 2016, but accounted for 18 receptions and 1 touchdown in 2016.
- Johnnie Dixon has had an injury-plagued career up until this point; could Dixon be an option at 'H' Back? Dixon only carried the ball one time for 5 yards and a touchdown in 2016, and added 6 receptions.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note. Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion.