The Ohio State defense got another potential shot in the arm Wednesday with the announcement Tanner McCalister will transfer in for next season.
A senior from Rockwall, Texas, McCalister was a two-year starter at defensive back for Oklahoma State, whose defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, is now in the same position at Ohio State.
McCalister was seventh on the team in tackles last season with 39 and third in pass breakups with six.
He arrived in Stillwater as a three-star recruit in the class of 2018 and has seen action all four years, so this 2022 will be his extra year granted by the NCAA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the 2020 season.
McCalister told 247Sports that Knowles is “my guy” and he is honored and excited to have the opportunity to be a Buckeye.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play with great players and coaches at Oklahoma State. Now as I make this change I hope to be a player that can add on to the rich tradition that’s there at Ohio State,” McCallister told the site. “I want to improve on my knowledge for the game of football. I think I can learn a lot being at Ohio State and I plan to study the game of football a lot more this last year. I think that can give me an advantage on the field.”
Ohio State will have some familiar faces available in the secondary this fall, but the unit has many questions after back-to-back disappointing seasons.
Bryson Shaw, who started most of the season at deep safety, had the third-highest Pro Football Focus defensive grade (73.2) among Buckeyes (regardless of position) who played at least 400 snaps on defense. His coverage grade was 73.2, best among Buckeyes who started for more than half the season. The junior-to-be is expected back this season, as is Josh Proctor, a senior who started the opener against Minnesota but suffered a season-ending injury against Oregon a week later.
McCalister’s PFF grade was 68.0 overall (10th among Cowboys with at least 400 snaps) and 67.8 in coverage. Both numbers are slightly below what PFF considers “starter level.”
McCalister spent the majority of his time in the slot according to PFF, and Ohio State has a pair of players returning who had more than 100 snaps there in 2021: Sophomore Lathan Ransom and redshirt freshman Cam Martinez. Ransom, who suffered what appeared to be a severe leg injury in the Rose Bowl, graded out at 64.4 overall and 65.5 in coverage while Martinez was at 70.9 and 74.4, respectively.
McCalister is the second transfer Ohio State has added this winter, joining linebacker DeaMonte Trayanum from Arizona State.