It’s not easy to get your name in the conversation as one of the best running backs in Ohio State history.
Archie Griffin is one, and he won two Heisman Trophies to get there.
Eddie George won the Heisman with a school-record 1,927-yard season.
Ezekiel Elliott put up back-to-back 1,800-yard seasons, and rushed for 220, 230, and 246 yards in the Buckeyes’ postseason march to the national title in 2014.
OSU junior running back J.K. Dobbins wants to earn his way into that conversation.
“I just want to be legendary,” he said after the Buckeyes’ first spring practice. “I want to be like Ezekiel Elliott and Archie Griffin and guys like that. Write my name in stone.”
Dobbins already ranks in the top-20 in career rushing yards by a Buckeye. At 2,456, he’s just 10 yards behind another Heisman winner, Hopalong Cassady.
Dobbins has topped 1,000 yards in each of his first two years. Another 1,000-yard season would put him fourth all-time, behind only Griffin, George, and Elliott.
And after splitting carries with Mike Weber for his first two seasons, Dobbins is now the clear-cut number one back. But he says he’s not taking anything for granted.
“I’m approaching this spring the same way I approached it whenever I came in my freshman year. Just work hard,” Dobbins said.
Being all alone at the top of the depth chart means Dobbins will get more opportunities, but it also means more wear and tear on his body.
He has only topped 25 carries in a game three times in his career; in the 2017 season-opener against Indiana (29), against the Hoosiers again in 2018 (26), and in a career day in the wild shootout win against Maryland (37 rushes for 203 yards).
But Dobbins says he’s ready to shoulder whatever workload is required this fall.
“Whatever the team needs. If you give me the ball 30 times, I’m still going to be alright. I’m going to make sure I find a way to be alright. Any amount of carries.”
It’s widely assumed that Dobbins’ third season with the Buckeyes will also be his last.
With the average NFL running back’s career lasting less than three years, it makes sense to start cashing those professional paychecks as soon as possible.
If this is his last year in Columbus, Dobbins has already starting putting in the work to make sure he’s truly ready for that final ride.
He weighs about what he did last fall, but said his body fat is lower. It’s all part of his plan to carry the load for the 2019 Buckeyes and earn his spot in Ohio State history.
“I’m preparing right now. I think I’ll be alright. I think I’ll be ready for it.”