ATLANTA – For the first time in program history, Ohio State has two Heisman Trophy finalists as both Justin Fields and Chase Young received invites to this weekend's Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York.
But the Buckeyes could have – and arguably should have – sent three players to The Big Apple.
Running back J.K. Dobbins is on the outside looking in as his teammates get ready to head to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and he – along with those teammates – believe he did enough this season to earn an invite.
“Yeah, I feel like I deserved to be in that group,” Dobbins told Eleven Warriors at the College Football Awards in Atlanta on Wednesday. “But I’m happy for my teammates. They didn’t choose me so I just have to work harder, so if there’s a next time, I can be there.”
Fields and Young echoed that sentiment.
“Definitely,” Fields said in support of his running back. “100 percent.
“I think he’s an all-around great back,” Fields went on. “He can catch out of the backfield, his elusiveness is off the charts and his speed and what he can do out of the backfield – it just makes him a special player.”
“I do,” Young said when asked if Dobbins deserved an invite. “J.K – I think he’s the best running back in the country. He has the numbers. Everything you need in a running back, J.K. can do. And I just think he showed that throughout the games we played this year.”
“I mean, the thing I could have done is play in the halves that I missed. Maybe that would have helped. I tried. I worked as hard as I could. It just didn’t go my way.”– J.K. Dobbins
Dobbins' 1,829 rushing yards are good for No. 3 in the country and also the third-most prolific season in Ohio State history – just 50 yards shy of surpassing Ezekiel Elliott's second-place total. He averages more than 175 yards per game and 10 touchdowns against top-15 teams, and has at least one touchdown in eight straight games, leading the conference.
The numbers are eye-popping, and Dobbins has no regrets – besides maybe that he didn't play more.
Dobbins put up those numbers while not having any carries in the second halves of four different games this season as the Buckeyes cruised to blowout victories. Those halves he spent on the bench, more than anything he did or didn't accomplish while he was on the field, likely cost Dobbins a trip to New York.
“I mean, the only thing I could have done is play in the halves that I missed. Maybe that would have helped,” Dobbins said. “I tried. I worked as hard as I could. It just didn’t go my way.”
Dobbins may not be a Heisman Trophy finalist, but he's certainly not gone without any recognition. Dobbins was named one of four finalists for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football and is in Atlanta as one of three finalists for this year's Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back.
But most importantly to Dobbins and his teammates, his performance has helped lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
As awards season continues, that's where the focus is for the Buckeyes, regardless of any awards they may or may not receive.
“He’s not really worried about it,” Fields said. “I think Chase, me and J.K. are more really worried about winning a national championship than individual accolades.”