Following Ohio State's 49-21 victory of the Indiana Hoosiers, true freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins was showered with praise from Buckeyes fans.
The 18-year-old had a career evening and put the rest of the nation on notice. Dobbins finished the night 29 carries for 181 yards rushing.
The freshman also broke a 15 year old rushing record held by former Buckeye Maurice Clarett. Dobbins 181 yards rushing in his first appearance surpassed Clarett's 175 yards when he make his Buckeye debut in 2002.
Dobbins began Indiana week not knowing what his fate would be come Thursday night in Bloomington. Incumbent running back Mike Weber had been struggling with a hamstring issue and Dobbins knew there was a chance he could see the field.
"I found out I was going to start midway through the week," said Dobbins. "Weber was having a hamstring problem, and when I heard that, I thought of it as an open opportunity for me."
In the second quarter Dobbins provided a memorable moment for Buckeye fans, as he scampered for 35 yards on a designed draw play. That run would be his longest of the game and was pivotal in bringing Ohio State back within striking distance of the Hoosiers.
Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was delighted with his freshman tailback's performance. "I wasn't surprised at all," Meyer said of Dobbins. "J.K. has even more in the tank."
Dobbins has demonstrated tremendous composure and poise for being part of one of the nation's most notorious football programs. He was quick to point out that teammates like J.T. Barrett and fellow tailback Mike Weber have been incredibly encouraging towards the freshman.
He even has fifth-year senior center Billy Price standing up and taking notice. “I think one of the things J.K. does really well is that he brings the defenders to us," Price said of his teammate. "He’s a good back. If you look at backs of the past like Carlo Hyde, Zeke Elliott, and Mike Weber last year, just the guys I was able to block for. They bring the defender to you and make sure that guy present himself in a hole.
So they bring that defender to us as an offensive linemen, we might get caught up in a double team and the guy might not be able to get off but the back’s job is to bring them to us. The guys I’ve been able to block for, J.K. and those guys still have a lot of room to grow, it’s crazy to think he is still 18 years old."
While J.K. was putting on a record setting performance against Indiana, he was thinking about friends and family at home in La Grange, Texas. Dobbins had friends and neighbors that had to deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey and although his family wasn't effected he thought about his town frequently during the week.
"I kind of thought about it as motivation for me. I’m probably the positive thing going on in my town right now. I thought about it as bringing my city up. That’s why I came out and played hard," said Dobbins.
J.K. Dobbins and the rest of the Buckeyes will look to have a repeat performance against the Oklahoma Sooners when they come to town Saturday, September 9th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 on ABC.