Members of Ohio State's Scout Team Claim They Beat the Starting Defense Often in Practice

By Eric Seger on December 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Demario McCall isn't shy about much. His vibrant personality flows through what he does on the field, how he is off it and in every single phase of his life.

His contagiousness percolates through the Ohio State scout team too, a group responsible for preparing one of the nation's best defenses for its next game. An explosive member of the 2016 recruiting class, McCall spearheads the set of players that battles the likes of Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, Tyquan Lewis and others on a daily basis.

And, according to McCall, it wins against them quite a bit. Asked to give details about it on Thursday at Fiesta Bowl Media Day, McCall turned to another running back in his class, Antonio Williams, to better pay homage on what the scout team does against a bevy of future NFL players.

“Hey 'Tone, he talking about scout team, bro,” McCall said.

“Scout team? Yeah, it's fun,” Williams responded. “Honestly, scout team might be the funnest part of practice.”

“When they say scout, man, we know it's time to buckle up and it's time to go hard. It's time to do what you do.”– Demario McCall

“Our scout team goes hard,” McCall replied. “Our scout team goes hard.”

Consider this: Fiesta Bowl practice star and quarterback Dwayne Haskins imitates Clemson's Deshaun Watson as he orchestrates an outfit that consists of McCall and Williams at running back, Luke Farrell, Kierre Hawkins and Jake Hausmann at tight end plus Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor out wide at receiver.

All are highly recruited players, and Ohio State's future offense gets reps against a top-5 defense every practice.

“It's pretty good but we're really good too,” Haskins said. “We give them a lot of work. It's a lot of fun.”

“We make some plays. It's fun,” Victor said.

The scout team players aren't shy about the explosive plays and touchdowns they score, either.

“It kinda happens every day. Every day. [Wednesday] it was red zone when I threw a pass to Luke Farrell and I was in the red zone and he got past Gareon, which is crazy,” Haskins said. “Two days ago, Jake Hausmann had a one-handed catch on two people. Every day plays like that.”

It sounds crazy. Conley, Lattimore and Hooker are all featured in 2017 NFL mock drafts. Ohio State's defense has future pro talents like Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker at linebacker plus the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in Tyquan Lewis. Not to mention Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes—two freakish athletes who have played a ton of important snaps this season.

And this crop of freshmen is beating them? Seriously?

“We all just compete, to be honest,” McCall said. “When they say scout, man, we know it's time to buckle up and it's time to go hard. It's time to do what you do. You get a chance to do what you do against the first-team defense. So why not take a shot?”


Can't argue with that. We witnessed what McCall could do in blowouts this season against Bowling Green, Nebraska and at Maryland. Haskins hasn't played and is headed for a redshirt but Urban Meyer loves his development. Williams is a bullish runner, Victor and Mack have the sky-high potential to stretch the field vertically, each playing sparingly in 2016.

It begs the question, how many teams on Ohio State's schedule could the scout team beat this year?

“I don't wanna down nobody,” Williams said, laughing. “I mean, I think being part of the scout team we have a little bias but I think our scout team is pretty good.”

“I ain't answering that but ... Half. Probably half of them,” McCall said, as only he can, lighthearted and full of energy.

“Not even considering our talent, you put our talent aside, the way that we compete, go hard helps us beat the first team D,” he added.

That is the point of a scout team. With Ohio State's current roster housing a bevy of players currently with freshmen eligibility, there will be plenty of moving parts next season for Meyer and his offensive staff. But it sounds like the group did what it is supposed to do to get the Buckeyes ready for Watson and an electric Clemson offense and also on the other side of the ball.

“Even on defense, we're stacked at every position,” Haskins said. “Linebacker, corner, safety, D-line, tight end. It's crazy to see how much talent we see on it.”

Now the clock ticks on when it will play together and wear Ohio State's regular jerseys, not the orange practice pennies to act as Clemson.

“Hopefully soon. That sounds pretty sweet,” Haskins said. “We do it every day on scout team. We do well against the first-team defense so we see it every day in practice. Hopefully one day it's on the field.”

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