You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Sidelined Dobbins cheers his La Grange teammates, looks to Ohio State


La Grange senior JK Dobbins was still in severe pain in early September when he received a phone call from Ohio State University.

Urban Meyer was on the line.

The coach of the second-ranked Buckeyes was checking up on one of the most-valued members of his team’s next recruiting class. Dobbins, ranked by 247 Sports as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back in the Class of 2017, plans to enroll at Ohio State in January.

Ezekiel Elliott made his mark with the Buckeyes before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. One coach has little doubt that Dobbins will join Elliott in the NFL someday.

“Coach Meyer said I was better than Zeke when he was my age,” Dobbins said.

The conversation between Meyer and his future player came roughly a week after Dobbins broke his right fibula and suffered a severely sprained ankle on the first play of La Grange’s season opener on Aug. 26 at Liberty Hill. The fracture required surgery, derailing a possible record-setting year for the 5-foot-10-inch, 200-pound Dobbins. It also sent shock waves through La Grange’s football team, which thrived in 2015 when Dobbins rushed for 2,740 yards and 35 touchdowns in 11 games.

“There was a grieving process (for Dobbins) after the injury happened,” said La Grange coach Matt Kates. “He worked his tail off in the summer.”

Without their five-star standout in the backfield, La Grange looked confused in September, losing three of its first four games. As November nears, Dobbins has learned to cope with his injury, and the Leopards are begining to play better, winning their first two games within District 10-4A, Division II.

Dobbins stays close to his teammates, encouraging them from the sidelines during every game.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Maybe God was trying to prevent something even worse from happening to me.”

No surprise, La Grange (3-3) remains a work in progress on offense, averaging 19.3 points a game, down from last year’s figure of 34.6. Sophomore Jericho Haardt has done an admirable job as Dobbins’ replacement, rushing for 615 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Colter Siptak has run for 373 yards with three TDs.

A senior-laden defense led by linemen John Villasana and Cordale Ellison, linebacker Dalton Ward and safety Daven McKenzie has limited opponents to 19 points a game, down from last year’s mark of 23.3.

Dobbins could have shattered the Austin-area record for career rushing this season. He needed 2,010 yards yards to break Brock Fitzhenry’s mark of 7,158 yards. Instead, Dobbins now spends much of his time rehabilitating his right leg, preparing to join his Ohio State teammates in two months.

His goals for his freshman season?

“I’m going to do things that no one is expecting,” said Dobbins, who recently had his cast removed.

Dobbins said he has always been physically gifted, explaining that he began walking at nine months. He said he carries a 3.5 grade-point average at La Grange, adding that his mother, Mya, keeps him grounded.

“When I’d come home after scoring five touchdowns, she’d tell me my room was dirty,” he said.

At Ohio State, Dobbins likely will be compared to Elliott, who rushed for 262 yards and two touchdowns as Carlos Hyde’s backup during his freshman season. A starter his final two years with the Buckeyes, Elliott finished his college career with 3,981 yards rushing — third on OSU’s career list — and 43 touchdowns.

So does Dobbins expect to become the next Ezekiel Elliott?

“No,” he said without hesitation. “I’m going to be the first JK Dobbins.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in High School Sports

2017 March Madness: The Final Four from A to Z
2017 March Madness: The Final Four from A to Z

Running down the four-team contingent set to meet in the desert next weekend in the 2017 Final Four, in an orderly and alphabetical way . . . A is for adjustments, which have propelled Oregon in particular to the final weekend of the season. The Ducks lost senior center and rim protector Chris Boucher to a knee injury during the Pacific-12 tournament...
Bears' idea of sustainable success is just talk until they fix QB position
Bears' idea of sustainable success is just talk until they fix QB position

The talking point the Bears keep circling back to this offseason is that their goal is to build a team for sustainable success.  It's what team President Ted Phillips outlined in a Feb. 8 letter explaining a price increase for the vast majority of tickets at Soldier Field. It's what general manager Ryan Pace said more recently at the beginning...
Back from irregular heartbeat, Dempsey hopes for 4th Cup 
Back from irregular heartbeat, Dempsey hopes for 4th Cup 

Clint Dempsey's big, owlish eyes brightened and he smiled widely. Seven months after he was sidelined by an irregular heartbeat, he not only returned to the U.S. national team at age 34 but helped the Americans to a critical victory in World Cup qualifying with just the second hat trick of his international career.   "There's moments...
Resilience carries South Carolina to a most unexpected stage
Resilience carries South Carolina to a most unexpected stage

In the moments after South Carolina clinched the first Final Four berth in team history, coach Frank Martin found his 74-year-old mother, Lourdes, and finally let down his guard. The scowl softened. The lips that breathed fire now curled upward in stupefaction. “He told me, ‘I’m so happy, but please don’t cry,'” Lourdes...
Bedeviled by an elbow, but blessed with arms
Bedeviled by an elbow, but blessed with arms

The New York Mets all but encased their starting pitchers in Bubble Wrap early in spring training, hoping that reduced wear and tear would preserve their arms. But pitching injuries seem unavoidable, and the Mets are as vulnerable as any team. “We came in here saying we’ve got to try to keep these guys healthy,” manager Terry Collins...
More Stories