clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ohio State running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber see value in shared rushing load

The dynamic backfield duo look for a strong performance in the Rose Bowl before Weber heads to the NFL.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference-Football Championship-Northwestern vs Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“I am not a selfish person. I am a team player first. Whatever the team needs to do to win a game, that’s what we’re going to do. If it’s him getting 30 carries and I get five and we win, I’m fine with it.”

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins on playing with running back Mike Weber via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Individual statistics are nice but the only stat that matters to running back J.K. Dobbins is wins. Through two seasons, the sophomore is the first Ohio State running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, but he’d gladly take less carries if it ensured an Ohio State victory.

The partnership Dobbins has formed with Mike Weber over the past two years in the backfield has made both better running backs. The rotation that Ohio State uses to get both Dobbins and Weber carries helps to keep the running back duo fresher. Weber took a beating in the Michigan State game, which allowed Dobbins the spotlight the next week against Maryland to roll up 203 yards on the ground in an overtime victory.

Not to say that Dobbins isn’t excited to be more of the workhorse for Ohio State next year after Weber heads to the NFL. Dobbins likely won’t see quite as much of a timeshare in the backfield next year, allowing him to state his case to be taken early in the 2020 NFL Draft. It could also help Dobbins if the Buckeyes return to more of a run-oriented offense, something they went away from with the emergence of quarterback Dwayne Haskins and a talented group of wide receivers.

Before Weber moves on to the professional level, the duo have one more game together. Ohio State will take on Washington in the Rose Bowl, with the Huskies sporting one of the top rushing defenses in the country. Expect both to get a healthy amount of carries as they try and send not only Weber out on a high note, but also head coach Urban Meyer.

“Tristen, I feel like he didn’t want to be a quarterback anymore, and when I talked to him, he just told me, ‘I’m about to decommit, if you want to talk to Coach Meyer, you’re more than welcome to.’ I knew he was going to Oregon to play receiver.”

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on what led him to Ohio State via Doug Lesmerises,

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. It’s very easy to see a scenario where Dwayne Haskins never played a snap at Ohio State. Haskins verbally committed to play college football at Maryland while Ohio State had a commitment from quarterback Tristen Wallace. Then just a couple months before National Signing Day things got turned upside down.

It all started in October 2015 when head coach Randy Edsall was fired by Maryland and Mike Locksley was named interim head coach. Haskins had a solid relationship with Locksley, but that wasn’t enough for him to be named permanent head coach, as the Terrapins lured D.J. Durkin from Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. The decision led Haskins to revisit his commitment to Maryland.

Ohio State had what they thought was their quarterback of the future in Tristen Wallace, but the problem was Wallace didn’t want to play quarterback anymore. Just three days after Haskins made an official visit to Columbus, Wallace decommitted from Ohio State, opting to commit to Oregon as a wide receiver. The spot opened up by Wallace eventually resulted in Haskins joining Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class.

While it’s obvious Haskins made the right decision, the same can’t be said for Wallace. The former quarterback never played a down for the Ducks, and was dismissed from the school for a sexual assault allegation that he was never charged with. Wallace eventually ended up at Prairie View A&M, where he caught 38 passes for 629 yards this year.

In the final twist to this story, Durkin was fired by the Terrapins earlier this year and Locksley was recently named head coach. Had Maryland hired Locksley as head coach in the first place, Haskins might have never left College Park. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Haskins did decide to commit to the Buckeyes and all he did was rewrite the single-season record book for Ohio State quarterbacks, and put himself in position to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft. It was a risk at the time for Haskins, but it definitely was the right decision.

“He thought this thing through. This wasn’t something he just jumped to, and obviously being under Larry’s tutelage, that’s a big part of this thing. And so it isn’t all going to happen at one, but the ceiling for Zach is really, really high.”

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day on the recruitment of Zach Harrison via Tony Gerdeman, The Ozone

It didn’t take long for new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day to make a splash on the recruiting trail. Last week Day landed the fourth-ranked player in the country, defensive end Zach Harrison. It didn’t hurt that Harrison grew up just north of Columbus in Lewis Center, but plenty of work was put in Harrison’s recruitment, especially after Urban Meyer announced he would be retiring following the Rose Bowl.

The biggest factor in the recruitment of Harrison was the involvement of defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who will remain on the Ohio State staff after Meyer’s retirement. The trust Johnson had built with not only Harrison during his recruitment, but also with his family, was what helped the Buckeyes to earn the valuable commitment of the defensive end.

Harrison is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the 2019 recruiting class, but he is still raw. With Johnson coaching Harrison over the next few years, it shouldn’t take much time to see growth from the defensive end. If Harrison can live up to expectations, he’ll be the latest in a line of great defensive ends to play at Ohio State over the last decade.