Running back J.K. Dobbins will leave Ohio State for NFL draft

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins torched Clemson for 141 yards in the first quarter Saturday night before a foot injury hampered him the rest of the game. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins announced Monday night that he would forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Dobbins’ decision was not a surprise. This season, he became the first Ohio State player to run for 2,000 yards in a season in helping the Buckeyes win their third straight Big Ten title and reach the College Football Playoff.

Dobbins finished with 2,003 yards, averaging 6.7 per carry. In his final game on Saturday against Clemson, he ran for 141 yards in the first quarter before being slowed by a foot injury. He finished with 174 yards on 18 carries in Ohio State’s 29-23 loss.

“I will forever be a buckeye!” Dobbins wrote on Twitter.

I will forever be a buckeye!

— Jk dobbins (@Jkdobbins22) December 30, 2019

In a statement, the La Grange, Texas, native said he was grateful for his time at Ohio State.

“Coming to Ohio from Texas has been nothing short of a dream,” Dobbins wrote in a statement. “I’ve built relationships that will last me a lifetime at this great university. I’ve created bonds on the teams for the past 3 years that will never be broken.”

Dobbins thanked fans, the program’s coaches, athletic trainers and equipment staff.

“The state of Ohio and the city of Columbus will always have a special place in my heart.”

Dobbins was a star from the beginning of his Buckeyes career. He started the season-opener as a true freshman against Indiana after incumbent Mike Weber suffered a hamstring injury and ran for 181 yards.

He ran for 1,403 yards that year. Sharing time with a healthy Weber in 2018, Dobbins had a disappointing sophomore season. He ran for 1,053 yards, but his yards-per-carry average slipped from 7.2 to 4.6.

Dobbins was determined to prove he was one of the country’s top running backs this year and worked hard in the offseason to get in peak shape. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, and his numbers would have been significantly higher if he had not been rested in the second half of several Ohio State blowouts.

Dobbins was edged by Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor for Big Ten running back of the year and the Doak Walker award.

“The kid’s been motivated all year,” Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said before the Fiesta Bowl. “Yeah, it (the awards snubs) did sting him. But you control the things you can control, and that’s how you can play and be the best teammate you can be. That’s been his ultimate focus.”

Dobbins is a notoriously tough self-critic. He repeatedly called his sophomore season a failure. He wasn’t even satisfied with his 2019 season.

“I always had envisioned myself having this type of a year, but I felt like I could have had a better year,” he said last week. “A lot of people probably look at me crazy for saying that, but I do.”

Dobbins finished his career with 4,459 rushing yards, second only to two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who had 5,589 in his four-year career. Dobbins’ per-carry average of 6.2 trails only Ezekiel Elliott among Ohio State’s top 27 career rushers. Of Ohio State runners who’ve led the team in rushing after 1950, Dobbins has two of the top four per-carry averages.