Ohio State football is already gearing up for Notre Dame as Tanner McCalister provides first-hand insights


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football has already begun preparing for the season opener against Notre Dame and used information from a teammate who was behind enemy lines.

Tanner McCalister’s last game with Oklahoma State was against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Nickel safety recorded five solo tackles in a 37-35 victory. Four days later, he committed to Ohio State as a transfer graduate.

Ohio State Security Ronnie Hickman said he and McCalister reviewed that game tape a few times. The Fighting Irish, coached by former Buckeye linebacker Marcus Freeman, will visit Ohio Stadium on September 3.

“He can kind of just talk to me — see what he was seeing and what was actually going on,” Hickman said last week on Big Ten Media Days. “I ask him all the time how it was. He’s been huge in helping me with stuff like that.

McCalister became an important intermediary between former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and the OSU players he now coaches when they both arrived in January. Hickman said he and other players relied on being selected to the three-time Academic All-Big 12 team rather than asking Knowles all their questions.

“You get a different response when you go to a player who’s on the court with you,” Hickman said. “He knows what it’s like to be out there.”

Several reporters who cover Notre Dame attended the Big Ten preseason kick-off event to gather information about and from Ohio State. Hickman was yet to have any keen scouting reports on Notre Dame quarterbacks Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne. He said OSU would prepare for both and “they do well at what they do.”

Tight end Michael Mayer should be among the best offensive players Hickman and other OSU defensemen see all year.

One thing OSU coach Ryan Day could talk about was the prestigious identity of the Fighting Irish.

“Part of the first game is just the preparation and making sure you prepare but also don’t overdo it, because you have to go and play,” Day said, “It’s going to be an electric vibe. Notre-Dame has an incredible tradition – simply incredible.

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