Ohio State's Texas-Grown Talent Excited To Return To The Lone Star State This Weekend For Top-15 Matchup With TCU

By Derrick Webb on September 11, 2018 at 8:49 pm
JK Dobbins

Saturday's Advocare Showdown between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 15 TCU is technically being played at a neutral site in AT&T Stadium. However, TCU's campus sits just 19 miles from Arlington; a quick 27-minute drive.

So, for semantics sake, the Buckeyes will be playing a road game ... that is, unless you're Texas natives J.K. Dobbins, Demetrius Knox, Jeffrey Okudah or Baron Browning.

For those four names, it's not a road game. It's another return home.

"It's always fun going back to the home state," Dobbins said. "When we played in Texas in (last year's Cotton Bowl), it was pretty fun. So I'm looking forward to it."

The Ohio State running back, a La Grange High School graduate, said he'd have many friends and family members attending Saturday's game. He's, of course, excited to play in front of them.

"A lot (will be there)," he said. "I can't even give you a number right now."

After being born in Springfield, Ohio, Knox moved to Texas before he became the Buckeyes' starting right guard. It was there where he turned into a highly touted recruit at All Saints Episcopal High School.

"In sixth grade, my uncle told my mom I'd have a better shot at getting recruited for football if I moved to Texas," Knox said. "It worked out. No matter if it's middle school football, high school football, everything is just dramatic down there."

Knox is one of many Buckeyes to have played at AT&T Stadium before. He said the experience is like none other.

"It's unbelievable. I remember, my freshman year, I played there. Then, a couple of times here. I'm happy to be back. I was born in Springfield, Ohio but I feel like Texas will always be my home," Knox said. "I always like to call myself a southern guy. Just the feel ... it's a completely different feel down there. Football at Ohio State, it's Ohio State. But high school football down there is big. The whole city shuts down."

Okudah, one of Ohio State's starting cornerbacks, has also played in Arlington. 

"I played there last year against USC (with Ohio State) and I played there twice in high school. Going there is always a fun time," he said. "I know when I was a freshman, I blocked Myles Garrett (from James Martin High School) on the punt team. That didn't go too well. Playing in Texas, in the area I grew up in, you're going against some of the top talent every single time."

Possibly more importantly, in a football sense at least, is the fact that Okudah played against TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson while in high school. During the two's senior years, Okudah's alma mater South Grand Prairie met with Robinson and DeSoto in the regular season.

"I think the offense he played in while in high school is really comparable to the one he plays in right now," Okudah said. "They spread the ball around, got it out quick, took a lot of shots and a lot of read option. Shawn has a sturdy frame. When he runs the ball, he has the option of putting his shoulder down and running you over."

Browning, Ohio State's middle linebacker and a graduate of Kennedale High School, will try and put a stop to Robinson and the Horned Frogs' offense. But he'll also be making a special trip to his favorite fast food restaurant while he's in town.

“I’m just excited to go to Whataburger," he said.

Saturday's kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.

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