Dare Ogunbowale never spent a full season as Wisconsin’s feature back, but that didn’t stop him from establishing himself as an NFL Draft prospect.
After walking onto the Badgers team as a defensive back, Ogunbowale switched to offense midway through his sophomore year and racked up 1,518 yards on 319 carries, plus 13 rushing touchdowns.
Who is Dare Ogunbowale? 5 things to know
1. Ogunbowale began his career as a walk-on cornerback
When Ogunbowale first arrived in Madison, he didn’t have a scholarship. He had barely been recruited out of Marquette University High School in Milwaukee and he chose to walk on at Wisconsin as a cornerback.
He redshirted in 2012, then played in eight games, mostly on special teams, in 2013. He had only two tackles that year, but one of them came against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
He wouldn’t earn his scholarship until just prior to the 2015 season.
2. He switched to running back midway two games into his sophomore season and contributed immediately
Weeks into the 2014 season, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen approached Ogunbowale and asked if he’d like to try running back. The Badgers had been beat up at that position, and Andersen was impressed by Ogunbowale’s elusiveness in drills.
Though Ogunbowale hadn’t even played running back in high school, he took to the position quickly, in part thanks to mentorship from his roommate, All-American Melvin Gordon. Backing up Gordon and Corey Clement, he rushed for 193 yards on 34 carries.
The next year, with Gordon in the NFL and Clement out most of the year with an injury (and a suspension), Ogunbowale was ready. He led the Badgers with 819 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. As a senior, he rushed for 506 yards on 5.6 yards per carry as Clement’s back-up.
3. Ogunbowale has a very athletic bloodline
Ogunbowale is far from the only athlete in his family. In fact, the list of Ogunbowale’s relatives who have made their mark in one sport or another is quite long.
His mother Yolanda played softball at DePaul. His sister Arike was a McDonald’s All-American in basketball and now plays at Notre Dame. His cousin Diamond Stone was an NBA Draft pick in 2016. And another cousin, Ryan Evans, played four years at Wisconsin.
There’s no secret where Ogunbowale’s athleticism comes from.
4. He is also a talented piano player
As Land of 10’s Sean Keeler wrote last fall, Ogunbowale enjoys playing the piano almost as much as he enjoys playing football
Dare Ogunbowale’s happy place runs 88 keys wide. And like the man himself, it runs hard and fast and might turn on a dime.
“There’ll be times that I’ll just go to the piano,” Wisconsin’s senior tailback said with a grin, “and realize that I’ve been trying to learn a song for a couple hours. You know, it’s just so much fun to me. And I still can’t believe my sister and brother quit. I just don’t get it. I have so much fun doing it, I don’t know why they quit. It’s all right. I usually play for them when I go home.”
Here’s a clip of Ogunbowale on the keys:
5. He’s a leader off the field in addition to on the field, having served as president of Wisconsin’s “Beyond the Game” program
As if Ogunbowale wasn’t already doing enough, he also established himself as a leader among student athletes.
Since arriving at Wisconsin, Ogunbowale had been involved in “Beyond the Game,” a program at Wisconsin designed to help student athletes transition to post-graduate life. Last year, he became president of the organization.
Naturally, therefore, Ogunbowale has several potential paths he can follow after he graduates in the spring. Having interned at Merrill Lynch last summer, he’s well-positioned for a career in finance. But before he goes that route, he’ll take his shot at the NFL.