Steele Chambers has been spending time with Ohio State’s linebackers, but he isn’t officially a linebacker yet.
Ryan Day confirmed Friday at Big Ten Media Days that Chambers has done some work with Al Washington and the linebackers this offseason, but said that Chambers has also continued to work out with the running backs and that, ultimately, it will be Chambers’ decision whether he wants to stay on offense or move to defense.
“So he’s at running back. But he’s also moving around and done some different things with Coach Washington. So we’ll see,” Day said. “It’s really up to Steele in the end about where he feels most comfortable as we head into the season.”
Chambers, who is entering his third year at Ohio State, has rushed for 221 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries over the past two seasons as a backup running back. He’s in a crowded position room at running back, however, with Master Teague returning as the incumbent starter and Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson, Marcus Crowley and Evan Pryor also vying for playing time.
There could potentially be more of a path to playing time at linebacker, where the Buckeyes are replacing their top four players from last season. He’d still have to beat out plenty of competition to get on the field there, though, in a position group that includes Teradja Mitchell, Dallas Gant, K'Vaughan Pope, Cody Simon, Tommy Eichenberg, Reid Carrico, Mitchell Melton and potentially Palaie Gaoteote, who isn’t yet officially on the roster as he awaits word from the NCAA regarding his eligibility.
Chambers played on both sides of the ball at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, Georgia), and Day said Friday that Ohio State talked to him during the recruiting process about the possibility of Chambers eventually playing linebacker, even though the 6-foot-1, 220-pound four-star athlete was initially brought in to play running back.
Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said this spring that he liked what he was seeing from Chambers’ development as a running back, but Day said Washington believes Chambers would fare well at linebacker. Day believes Chambers can be successful playing either position.
“He’s had a really good offseason. He’s very conscientious. Really talented,” Day said. “And we talked about some of this in recruiting. This isn’t something that’s new. And in the end, we’re gonna leave it up to him.
“If he wants to stick with running back, then he should stick with running back. If he thinks he can make an impact at linebacker, which Coach Washington seems to think that he’s got the skill set to do it, then let’s go do that too. But certainly not gonna force it on him. Whatever he thinks is best. I think he’s got a chance to be good at either of them.”