Tanner McCalister didn’t get selected in the NFL draft, but he’ll still have a chance to pursue his professional football dreams.
The former Ohio State safety agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft concluded, he told Eleven Warriors.
McCalister is one of two Ohio State safeties to join the Browns as an undrafted free agent, as the Browns also signed Ronnie Hickman to a deal. The Browns also drafted two Buckeyes on Saturday, offensive linemen Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler, bringing their total number of former Ohio State players on their roster to six.
In his lone season as a Buckeye, McCalister started 12 games at the nickel safety position and recorded 24 total tackles with three interceptions. Previously, McCalister played four years at Oklahoma State, starting 23 games over his final two seasons as a Cowboy. Overall, McCalister played more than 2,300 defensive snaps and over 500 special teams snaps in five years at the collegiate level, all of which will help his chances of making an NFL roster.
As an undrafted free agent, McCalister will have to earn his spot on the 53-man roster with a strong showing in training camp and the preseason. Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who coached McCalister at both Oklahoma State and Ohio State, is among those who are confident McCalister will find success at the next level.
“I thought he was gonna move on to the NFL, and I thought he could,” Knowles said in January 2022. “Every game you say things to different guys in the stretch lines. And my thing with him was always, ‘Hey, man you’re a professional. You’re a professional at what you do.’ Because that’s what he did all the time. I mean he played nickel, covered the slot and competed in some really tough situations. So I think he’ll be a great professional some day.”