COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State brings back two talented running backs in 2018, with junior Mike Weber and sophomore J.K. Dobbins both having a 1,000-yard season to their credit.
That duo has continued a steady run of success for Ohio State running backs under Urban Meyer, beginning with Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott. This year, however, the Buckeyes have an advantage over past years, assuming both stay healthy. In 2012, Elliott wasn’t yet on campus to pair with Hyde, and in 2013 he had a limited role as a freshman. Elliott was a star in 2014 and ’15, but Hyde was gone and Weber didn’t arrive until 2015 and redshirted. Dobbins signed with Ohio State in 2017, but Weber missed a good bit of that season because of injury after a solid 2016 campaign.
For the first time in Meyer’s tenure, Ohio State will have two running backs who have previously rushed for 1,000 yards in a season sharing the same backfield, a combination that should pay big dividends this fall.
“Without question it makes you better,” Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford said. “It’s competition. The more competition you have, the more successful you’ll be because you’re going to push yourself to higher limits that you can’t do by yourself compared to when there’s someone standing next to you or behind you.
“It makes everyone better. It makes everyone in the room better. It makes our team better. It makes you more accountable in everything you do as far as in the meeting room and on and off the field because you have other guys who are pushing you. It’s a close group, though, and they enjoy pushing one another. That’s what we’re looking for.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Buckeyes’ recent success is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The success of Hyde and Elliott helped Ohio State land Weber and Dobbins, and the continued dominance at that position helped Ohio State sign 4-star running backs Brian Snead and Master Teague in the 2018 class.
Teague arrived as an early enrollee and showed off his promising ability in the spring game, rushing for 73 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Snead won’t arrive until June but looked the part in high school. Their arrival bolsters the amount of talent in the room, and it helps that the older players have already spent time trying to work with their eventual replacements to get them ready for the jump to college.
“I’ve watched how those guys have taken to Master Teague, trying to teach him,” Alford said. “There’s a lot of times in the meeting room where we’ll be going through something and I’ll say something and all of a sudden, the older guys will stop me and say, ‘Hey, Master thinks of it like this.’
“They’re helping one another, and they’ve already started trying to indoctrinate Brian Snead into things and helping him, as well. It’s a healthy situation, a healthy room, and I like where we’re at. We’ve got to keep going. We’re not where we need to be right now, but we’re getting there.”