Watch out! @Jkdobbins22 has landed on another preseason watch list: the Doak Walker. The award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding running back.— Jerry Emig (@BuckeyeNotes) July 17, 2019
J.K. Dobbins continues to find himself on preseason watch lists. This time, the junior has been named a nominee for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation’s best running back each season. It is the second straight year that Dobbins has made the preseason list.
As the only RB in Ohio State history to have 1,000-yard seasons in both his freshman and sophomore year, Dobbins has racked up over 2,400 yards rushing and almost 400 yards receiving with 20 total TDs in his first two years as a Buckeye, all while being part of a two-man backfield. This season will see Dobbins getting the bulk of the carries for the first time in his career, with the added benefit of a rebuilt offensive line. Dobbins, playing alongside a mobile quarterback in Justin Fields, should be able to recapture the magic of his freshman campaign and put up huge numbers for Ohio State in 2019.
Other notable preseason nominees include Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (who won the award last season), Clemson’s Travis Etienne, D’Andre Swift at Georgia and Maryland’s Anthony McFarland Jr.
“I just found out that [E.J. Liddell] was just entering college. He’s already ahead of a lot of guys right now at his position. It looks like he has a good work ethic. He can shoot, rebound and defend, so those are the most important things. He’s got a high motor, too.”
Chris Holtmann has put together one of the most impressive recruiting classes Ohio State basketball has seen in quite some time, nabbing three top-50 players and securing the Big Ten’s top class. One of those such high profile players in E.J. Liddell, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward and the No. 1 player from his home state of Illinois. Liddell, who is taking part in the Kingdom Summer League, has already began to turn some heads.
Vitto Brown, an Ohio native and former standout at Wisconsin, has spent the last two years in the NBA’s G-League, and got to play alongside Liddell on team Be Greater last Sunday. Brown loved what he saw from Liddell, saying the forward has a ton of talent at such a young age. As a former three-star recruit himself, Brown says that the transition from high school to Division I is tough and requires a ton of confidence, which he says the summer league will help with.
Liddell made his summer league debut on July 7, where all he did was lead all scorers with a 27-point performance. A week later, in the game he and Brown played in together, Liddell filled the stat sheet, finishing with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
“Ohio State could afford to be patient with two of the most tantalizing young prospects in the program last season. And that developmental period as freshmen for Jeremy Ruckert and Jaelen Gill should wind up paying off in a significant way...”
There are certainly positions where Ohio State is lacking in the depth department. Receiver is not one of them, where the Buckeyes possess an embarrassment of riches. Sophomores Jeremy Ruckert and Jaelen Gill would be starters at most other programs in the country. However, the pass-catchers room at OSU is very deep and full of experience, and so the young tight end and wide receiver will have to really earn their time on the field this season.
Ruckert will certainly be the beneficiary of more two-tight end sets that Ohio State plans on using this season. Seemingly slotted in the depth chart behind both Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry, he will have a chance to earn additional playing time with a good preseason camp. As the No. 2 TE in the nation in the 2018 class, Ruckert played in 12 games last season, catching just one pass in the season opener for 13 yards. He is a dynamic playmaker with great hands, and with increased work in the blocking game could work his way into the starting rotation.
Gill could see the field in a variety of ways, both on offense as either a receiver or H-back and also as an option on special teams in the return game. As someone who has drawn comparisons to Parris Campbell, his elite athleticism and sturdy hands will make him a viable option in the slot or on end-arounds and screen plays. Unfortunately for Gill, wide receiver is the position Ohio State has perhaps its greatest depth, so the competition for time will be stiff. Recruited as the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country in 2018, the Westerville native will get the ball in his hands more than a few times this season.