Ohio State then-redshirt sophomore running back Demario McCall (30) catches a pass in the first half of the game against Michigan on Nov. 24. Ohio State won 62-39. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Multimedia Editor


That’s the word star junior running back J.K. Dobbins used to describe his 2018 season.

If the Texas product considers a second-consecutive 1,000-yard season, a feat achieved by less than 10 players in program history, “terrible,” then Ohio State shouldn’t be concerned about its starter at running back.

What is concerning is that through 15 fall camp practices, head coach Ryan Day has yet to name Dobbins’ backup.

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Day said when asked about the backup battle Monday.

He elaborated on a few players, but no running back outside Dobbins on Ohio State’s roster has rushed for 300 yards or more in a season.

Redshirt junior Demario McCall appears to be the likely option at No. 2 on the depth chart, and Day said he had a “leg up” Monday. He could provide a great change-of-pace with his speed and athleticism when Dobbins needs a rest, abilities he’s showcased on a handful touchdown plays longer than 30 yards in his career.

However, McCall’s team-listed weight of 195 pounds stretched across a 5-foot-9-inch frame isn’t the typical size expected for an every-down back. Should Dobbins be unavailable for any reason during the season, McCall could face issues handling a large workload.

That said, Day likes what he’s seen in camp.

“I think he can really be a weapon for us,” Day said.

Redshirt freshman Master Teague fits into that mold at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds. He served as the third-string back in 2018.

His issue is a lack of experience, now in his second year with the program. Injuries kept him out for the first two weeks of fall camp, and a career rushing total of 106 yards doesn’t jump off the page.

“He’s been limited all camp, which is hard, I know, frustrating for him,” Day said.

All that remains in the position room are two freshmen in Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers. Both were four-star prospects in the class of 2019.

Dobbins likes what he’s seen from the group behind him.

“Everyone’s been doing good,” Dobbins said. “Learning the offense, running hard, practicing hard.”

The lack of experience does raise concern, however. McCall is the only player higher than freshman class behind Dobbins, and he’s bounced between H-back and running back in his time with the Buckeyes.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields will help alleviate some issues with his playmaking ability, but having a running game centering around a feature back and no established No. 2 is like tightroping without a safety net.

The Buckeyes are best served to tie something together.