Ohio State Football: H-back unit could be the best ever

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Parris Campbell
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Parris Campbell /

The group of H-backs Urban Meyer has to work with on this year’s Ohio State football team may round into the best unit he has ever had.

Urban Meyer has always put an importance in finding outstanding H-backs for his spread offense. He had Percy Harvin at Florida who may have been the best ever to play the position and his trio of H-backs on his 2014 Ohio State football team formed an outstanding unit.

Now the group of players he has to work with this season could be the best ever. While Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel were integral to the Buckeyes run to the national title, the returning H-backs are just as talented and more experienced. Last season Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill and C.J. Saunders put up comparable overall numbers to the 2014 unit.

Let’s take a look at the stats of each.

2014                                  Rushing                                Receiving

  • Jalin Marshall        25 – 145 yards, 6 TDs     38 – 400 yards, 1 TD
  • Curtis Samuel       58 – 383 yards, 6 TDs     11 – 95 yards
  • Dontre Wilson      18 – 100 yards                   21 – 300 yards, 3 TDs

2017                                   Rushing                                Receiving

  • Parris Campbell    10 – 132 yards, 1 TD         40 – 584 yards, 3 TDs
  • K.J. Hill                       2 – 1 yard                            56 – 549 yards, 3 TDs
  • C.J. Saunders                                                          17 – 221 yards, 1 TD

The 2014 H-back unit rushed for more yards and scored 8 more touchdowns, but the three players last year caught 53 more passes, had 559 more receiving yards and gained more total yards from scrimmage, 1,487 vs. 1,423. And now there will be another player added to this year’s unit.

Demario McCall will be in the rotation this season and that will provide even more firepower to the position. McCall has been playing running back much of his first two years at Ohio State because of depth issues but now he will primarily be playing on the edge because the RB unit is loaded.

If the spring game is any indication McCall is comfortable with his new role. He caught 11 passes for 165 yards and 2 scores, and part of the game was touch football. It’s hard to say what kind of stats he would have put up if he had to be tackled every time he had the ball in his hands.

Simply put, McCall is a big play waiting to happen.

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With the amount of experienced talent at the position you wouldn’t expect a true freshman to get into the mix, but Jaelen Gill almost certainly will.

With the new NCAA rule that allows players to play four games and still be red-shirted, Gill is going to see the field. He was ranked the 2nd best  athlete and the No. 30 player in the 2018 recruiting class and you know Urban Meyer wants to see how he will perform. But I don’t think the redshirt option is even on coach Meyer’s mind.

Campbell, Hill and Saunders will be seniors so you know Urban will want to prepare Gill for the 2019 season. Not only that, with his talent Gill probably won’t be around for a fifth season so why burn a year of eligibility.

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The talent in the H-back unit Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson have to work with this season is off the chart. You can expect huge numbers produced from this group and they promise to be fun to watch. And by the end of the season, they may possibly be considered the best H-back unit ever assembled.