Ohio State junior running back JK Dobbins had a down year (for him) last season as a sophomore, but returns this year more determined than ever to regain his dynamic freshman form.
His running mate Mike Weber is now off to the NFL, so redshirt freshman Master Teague and true freshman Marcus Crowley spent the spring trying to fill that void.
Fourth-year junior Demario McCall missed the spring with a nagging calf injury, which was unfortunate for him, but fortunate for Teague and Crowley.
Demario McCall OR
JK Dobbins went back to the future for spring ball. He went back to his freshman roots this spring and basically started over again. I don’t know if he moved back into the dorms, but the clock has apparently been turned back everywhere else. There was no cruise control for Dobbins. He entered the spring with a hunger more reminiscent of a guy who has yet to accomplish anything. It was a callback to his 2017 spring when he wasn’t an established starter and brought all kinds of fight with him. He does not want the 2018 season to repeat itself and went through the spring determined to move towards a more consistent and explosive 2019. Dobbins looked good this spring and showed the make-you-miss that we grew accustomed to seeing in 2017.
“It’s a combination of him trying to hit the home run, and it’s a combination of some of the things that we were doing offensively. Every game situation, everything is a little bit different. So to say 100 percent, ‘this is what it is,’ you can’t do that. But I do know that he was trying to hit some big ones. And he would tell you that, too. And consequently, he missed some big ones. To be able to pinpoint, ‘that’s it, 100 percent,’ I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking. Not to say other people if they do, I’m not saying they’re wrong. I just don’t subscribe to that. And right now, he is on fire as far as his mental approach to what’s going on right now. He is on fire. He’s enjoying playing right now.” — Running backs coach Tony Alford on JK Dobbins trying to hit the home run too often last season.
Marcus Crowley is the lone true freshman running back to take part in spring ball, and thanks to Demario McCall’s absence, he saw more action than he could have. There is no doubting that Crowley runs and practices hard, which is all Tony Alford has asked him to do. There is very little dancing with Crowley, which is something that the entire room worked on in the spring. Crowley may or may not have a spot in the rotation this season, but he showed this spring that he’s a willing participant in whatever Alford asks him to do. Spring ball for any freshman can be overwhelming at times, and Crowley was no exception. He responded to his adversities well, however, by keeping his head down and continuing to work through any issues that came his way.
Master Teague is a combine showoff. He’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s a great athlete. More importantly for Ohio State, however, is that Teague can be patient and stay behind his blocks. He can go north-south and he can also do a one cut slash and go. Teague ran tough this spring just as Crowley did, and several times when watching him he exploded into the second level. He is a different running back than he was last year. Heck, he’s different now than he was when camp kicked off in March. Even if Demario McCall is the de facto backup this spring, Teague should see plenty of action.
JK Dobbins was near the top of Heisman lists a year ago at this time. Things didn’t quite work out for him, rushing for 100 yards last season just three times. Using last season to drive him this season, Dobbins is planning on a much more productive 2019. Refocused and re-energized, Dobbins could be back to his 7-yard-per-carry ways this season, and if he is, he’d be worthy of some promotional materials.
— Kenny Lucky (@CoachKenLucky) April 18, 2019
Demario McCall wasn’t able to play this spring, but there are still significant plans for him. Tony Alford said this spring that he felt McCall was happier now and thrilled to be back at running back after spending last season at H-back. A Demario McCall with a bounce in his step sounds like one helluva dangerous player. His ability to swing out will be fun to watch this season, unless you’re an opposing linebacker. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see him play in camp, but rest assured the plans for McCall have not been scrapped.