Steele Chambers has officially changed positions.
After spending the first two years of his Ohio State career at running back, Chambers is now a full-time linebacker for the Buckeyes and has settled in on the defensive side of the ball, Ryan Day said Monday.
Going into preseason camp, Day remained hesitant to say Chambers would change positions, saying at Big Ten Media Days that Chambers has been cross-training at both running back and linebacker and could still play either position for Ohio State. Now that the Buckeyes are five practices into preseason camp, though, Chambers has decided to make the permanent switch to linebacker, and Ohio State's coaches like what they've seen from the third-year Buckeye at his new position.
“It’s something that we wanted to take a look at, and asked his feedback this past week, and he said he’d like to try it full-time,” Day said. “And the guys on defense have been very, very impressed right from the jump. You can usually tell right away if somebody’s just natural at it. He is, and he’s very, very athletic. So he’s really upgraded that room, and I expect him to make an impact this season.”
A four-star recruit in the recruiting class of 2019, Chambers ran for 221 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries over the past two seasons as a backup running back. He did not appear to be in line for much playing time at running back this season, however, at a position where the Buckeyes also have Miyan Williams, Master Teague, TreVeyon Henderson, Marcus Crowley and Evan Pryor.
Chambers, who weighs in at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, played both ways at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, Georgia) and was recruited by some colleges – including Clemson – as a linebacker, will now provide depth at a position of uncertainty for the Buckeyes.
How much playing time that will lead to is uncertain, as he joins a roster of linebackers that includes Teradja Mitchell, Cody Simon, Dallas Gant, K'Vaughan Pope, Tommy Eichenberg, Reid Carrico, Mitchell Melton and likely Palaie Gaoteote (pending NCAA eligibility). With no defined depth chart yet at that position, though, there could be more of an opening for Chambers to earn his way into the rotation once he gets acclimated to his new position.
Day said he thinks Chambers can make an impact for Ohio State's defense as the season progresses.
“I hope that he can provide depth early in the season and then grow into a more consistent role as the season goes on,” Day said. “It’s all new to him, so we have to be fair. He needs a ton of reps. But I think every rep that you invest in him, you’re gonna get back. Because not only is he intelligent, but he has the skill set too to do it.
“So I know all the guys and I are very, very excited for him to see kind of where this goes over the next couple of weeks, if he can take strides to be able to help us and give us some plays early in the season and then like I said, a more significant role midway to the end of the fall.”
As a redshirt sophomore, Chambers still has four remaining years of eligibility with the NCAA granting all players a free year of eligibility last season.