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Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins is ready to bounce back after “disappointing” sophomore season

Even though he rushed for 10 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards, Dobbins was not happy with his performance last season.

Big Ten Championship - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

“I just feel like I’m the best running back in the nation, and I want to prove that. I didn’t last year, and I have a chip on my shoulder because I know I can do better.”

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

For most running backs in the country, rushing for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns would be a really good season. For J.K. Dobbins it was a disappointment. Dobbins burst onto the scene at Ohio State as a freshman in 2017 by rushing for 1,403 yards. Last season saw Dobbins struggle to crack 1,000 yards, as he shared carries with Mike Weber.

With Weber having moved on to the NFL, Dobbins is expecting to see the lion’s share of the carries for the Buckeyes this year. Not only will Dobbins be counted on more as he is unquestionably the most experienced running back for Ohio State, but the offense will likely lean on him as new quarterback Justin Fields becomes comfortable under center. To make sure he is ready for the increased workload, Dobbins has dropped his body fat by four percent.

The key for Ohio State will be keeping Dobbins healthy throughout the year, since the returning running backs behind combined for just 156 rushing yards last year. As long as Dobbins can stay on the field, it isn’t hard to imagine his junior year looking more like his freshman season at Ohio State than last year. Dobbins has put in the work in the offseason and has the motivation to improve on his 2018 season. If Dobbins is able to come out of the gates quickly and carry the Buckeyes throughout the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the conversation for some major awards by the end of the regular season.

“I’m anxious to see what the future brings. I’m definitely physically ready and emotionally ready to take on whatever they’ve got planned for me. I feel like this year is going to be my biggest year. I definitely should have a breakout season this year.”

Ohio State running back Demario McCall via Spencer Holbrook, Letterman Row

For a few years Ohio State fans have been waiting for Demario McCall to break out. McCall has shown brief glimpses of what he can bring to the table, but he hasn’t been able to find consistent playing time for the Buckeyes. Things could change this year for the redshirt junior, as a substitute for Dobbins and additional pass catcher could be sought.

Head coach Ryan Day knows the talent McCall possess, but he knows McCall has to take things one step at a time, and that first step is securing the backup running back role. Ohio State doesn’t need McCall to rush the football 20 times a game to be success, but they do need him to show consistently that he can keep defenses honest while Dobbins is getting a breather on the sidelines.

So far, McCall’s preparation for the 2019 season started out in a familiar position to the rest of his Ohio State career. McCall missed spring camp with an injury, but he is ready to show the coaching staff that he deserves to be more involved in the offense. The redshirt junior knows this year is the year he needs to make a name for himself. With his Ohio State career half over, if he doesn’t get onto the field more and show his gamebreaking skills that fans have been waiting to see, he might not get another opportunity like this.

Ohio State basketball looks like they’ve found another piece to their 2019-20 non-conference schedule. There hasn’t be an official announcement from the university yet, but reports are that the Buckeyes will be taking on Morgan State. The meeting will be the third between the two schools, with Ohio State winning the previous two matchups. The Buckeyes opened up their 2013-14 season with an 89-50 victory over the Bears in Columbus. The other meeting between the schools came back in 1994, with Ohio State winning 95-74.

Morgan State will enter this season as a program in transition. The Bears finished last season 9-21, and parted ways with Todd Bozeman after 13 seasons. Taking over for Bozeman will be Kevin Broadus, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Maryland.

This marks the second straight year in which Ohio State has played a school from the MEAC. Last year the Buckeyes defeated South Carolina State 89-61 at Value City Arena. Ohio State has never lost to a team currently in the MEAC, posting an all-time record of 22-0.

The start of the college football season is still a couple weeks away, which means there is still time to sign up for the SB Nation FanPulse Top 25!