Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Rookie RB J.K. Dobbins credits God as he strengthens Ravens' rushing attack

J.K. Dobbins never thought the Baltimore Ravens would be the team that drafted him following his illustrious career at Ohio State. After all, Baltimore had the most prolific rushing attack in NFL history without Dobbins last season.

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But when the second-leading rusher in Ohio State history was still on the board at pick 55, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta felt Dobbins was too good to pass on a second time.

“I honestly didn’t know that I was going to receive a call from Baltimore, but God works in mysterious ways, and here I am today,” Dobbins told ESPN after being drafted. “I feel like I’ll thrive in this offense.”

Thrive he has. The 22-year-old ended the regular season on Sunday as the team’s top running back. His 805 rushing yards trailed only quarterback Lamar Jackson (1,005), who became the first QB in NFL history to gain 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

And Dobbins finished the season with a rookie franchise record and team-leading nine rushing touchdowns, as he closed out the regular season by scoring at least one TD in six straight games. He scored twice on Sunday, when he also set a career-high with 160 rushing yards in Baltimore’s 38-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to clinch a playoff berth.

His performance was headlined by a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter that extended the Ravens’ lead to 35:

After he set a franchise rookie record with his eighth TD of the season, Dobbins, who is often outspoken about his faith on social media, thanked God.

Dobbins has certainly experienced the mysterious ways in which God can work. His mom, who was 18 when she gave birth to him, thought about aborting him before ultimately changing her mind. And Dobbins was 15 when his father β€” who battled heart issues for years β€” passed away from a stroke at just 33 years old.

J.K. points to his father’s passing as a defining moment in his life.

β€œThat was probably the turning point in my life,” Dobbins said in a 2017 interview with the Columbus Dispatch. β€œI just had to grow up at a young age.”

He’s now an adult and thriving in his first year in the NFL. Next up is his first taste of playoff football. The Ravens face the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round at 1:05 ET on Sunday. Tennessee was 2-0 against Baltimore in 2020, upsetting the top-seeded Ravens in the divisional round of last season’s playoffs and winning in overtime in Week 11.

“I’ve been dreaming about the Super Bowl and the NFL playoffs since I was a little kid. And now, it’s finally here,” Dobbins said Sunday. “I want to play in the big games, always. They say big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and I want to see if I’m a big-time player.”

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