Ohio State junior running back JK Dobbins is fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 140.7 yards rushing per game.
He leads the nation in rushing in the first half of games, with 1,262 yards, which is 104 yards more than Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who is second in the nation in that particular category.
The Buckeyes were involved in so many blowouts this season that Dobbins didn’t even carry the ball in the second half of four games.
It wasn’t until this final stretch of three games against Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin that Dobbins was able to move into second place on his own team in carries in the fourth quarter this season.
And despite his dominance this season — rushing for 100 yards in every game where he actually played more than two quarters, he has been overlooked.
In the Big Ten, despite outplaying Wisconsin All-American running back Jonathan Taylor twice in head-to-head matchups this season, it was Taylor receiving the award for the Big Ten’s best running back.
In those two games, Dobbins went for 163 and 172 yards and three total touchdowns. Taylor, meanwhile, chimed in with 52 and 148 yards, scoring once.
Dobbins losing the running back award to Taylor was a disappointment, but the real prize was securing a pair of victories.
“I always think I have a shot. I thought I had a good shot, but I guess I didn’t,” he said. “The main thing for me was that I know what I did. I won a Big Ten Championship. My team won every matchup.
“The first thing that goes through my mind is that happy for him. But I can’t control things that I can’t control, so I don’t know who votes on that stuff, who dictates it. Obviously, they saw something better with him. Helping your team win is the ultimate bragging right.”
Despite always having the big picture in mind regarding team success, Dobbins takes the individual stuff personally.
Back in the spring, he said he wanted to show everyone that he was the best running back in the nation.
Now 13 games into the season with 1,800+ yards on the ground to show for his efforts, Dobbins believes he has proven himself correct, even if he still has doubters out there.
“Yes, I do think I am [the best running back in the nation],” he said. “I feel like I do a lot of things other than just run the ball. I told people that I was gonna be a show and that I was the best. I don’t know how people rank it, but hopefully I can keep showing it.”
How most people rank these things are with awards, which is something that continues to evade Dobbins.
The Doak Walker Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top running back, went to Jonathan Taylor for the second year in a row.
For those who watched both Ohio State – Wisconsin games, it would be difficult to vote Taylor ahead of Dobbins in anything. But it happened.
And while some would see being a Doak Walker finalist as its own accolade, Dobbins sees it as more fuel to his fire.
“I don’t know. I was a Doak Walker award finalist, but I didn’t win. So that really just made even more hungry,” he said. “I just feel like guys are doubting me. That’s just how I feel. Until I feel like I’ve proven that point wrong and I’ll keep working super hard to prove people wrong. Yeah, I won’t be satisfied for a while.”
Dobbins is accustomed to the doubters, but that doesn’t mean he will ever choose to accept them. He does, however, use them.
In fact, he has set — and met — many goals this season. While the team goals are the most important, there are individual goals that still remain.
“Yeah, I mean, not numbers-wise, but I wanted the people that were watching the TV or in there in person, I wanted people to be like, ‘okay, he’s actually good,'” he said. “I feel like people thought I sucked. So, I keep trying to keep proving to people that I actually can play a little bit football, you know, just a little bit.”
Coming off of a down year as a sophomore, but still rushing for over 1,000 yards, Dobbins entered the 2019 season with plenty of doubters.
None of those doubters, however, were inside the walls at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Now on the doorstep of some of his loftiest goals, Dobbins can look back and know that he never doubted himself.
He has also yet to be satisfied with any of his individual accomplishments.
“I always envisioned myself having this type of year,” he said. “I feel like I could have had a better year. I know a lot of people will probably call me crazy for saying that, but I do and I’m just gonna try and keep improving and hopefully on Saturday and I can have best game because I haven’t had my best game yet. I feel like it hasn’t come out yet”