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Tradition and Tony Alford Brought J.K. Dobbins to Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman

Much has been made of Ohio State's recruiting success in Texas this past year, but it was running back J.K. Dobbins who got the ball rolling 370 days ago when he committed to the Buckeyes out of La Grange last March.

It was as if Dobbins had moved from tailback to fullback and paved the way for four other Texans to join him, and what a swath he waged.

It would take nearly a year, but eventually linebacker Baron Browning, cornerbacks Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield, and wide receiver Ellijah Gardiner would join him as Buckeyes.

Each of these five players chose Ohio State for their own reasons, and when it comes to why Dobbins wanted to be a Buckeye, it came down to tradition and the way he was recruited.

"I built a great relationship with Coach Alford, so that played a big part in it," he said. "Coach Meyer too, he always checked up on me every week. I feel like that played a big role. There were a lot of schools in other places that tried to do the same thing but I just felt like they were genuine. That’s all I wanted, genuine people around me.

"Coach Alford was down there a lot. I can’t even tell you how many times he came down. They checked up on me. Coach Alford talked to me every day, Coach Meyer probably twice a week. It was just great relationships. Really when they recruited me we didn’t just talk about football. It was mainly about family, normal people talk. That caught my eye too because it wasn’t all about football. They were getting to know me too."

Now, as any running back will tell you, the tradition at Ohio State is an incredible draw. Only two Buckeye starting running backs this century (Maurice Clarett, Lydell Ross) have failed to spend at least a couple of years in the NFL. Since Urban Meyer's arrival, that reputation is only growing with Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott both starting in the NFL right now.

In fact, Elliott's role in getting Dobbins to Columbus shouldn't be overlooked.

"I always looked up to Zeke because Zeke is a great player. It kind of had an influence on me," he said.

"When I was younger I always watched Ohio State. It’s a great school with great tradition, winning tradition. It felt like it would be crazy to play here so when I got the opportunity I couldn’t pass it up. It played a big role because you want to go to a school that’s going to develop you as a running back and as a player and as a man.  When I saw that I thought that’s a great opportunity."

Dobbins missed his senior season of high school due to a broken bone in his leg, but he is full go now and participating in practice. He was repping behind Mike Weber, Antonio Williams, and Demario McCall last week, but never once did he look out of place.

Even though he has the versatility that could be showcased at H-back, the talk right now has solely been about the running back position, which should allow him to acclimate and put his best foot forward.

While there may be plenty of running backs ahead of him at the moment, Dobbins simply goes back to one of the things that brought him here -- tradition. Great backs always find a way, be it during a game or fighting for snaps.

Meaning that if he's good enough to play, nobody will hold him back.

"The best guy is going to play I feel," he said. "That’s what Coach Meyer, Coach Wilson, everyone here has said. They just want to win."

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