Badgers cornerback Dare Ogunbowale switches to running back and sees some serious success
MADISON (WITI) — With names like Ron Dayne and Montee Ball, there’s really no shortage of Wisconsin Badgers running backs in the NFL record books. If you run the football, Wisconsin is where you want to be. This past week, with some help from an unexpected source, they proved why.
There was something special lingering at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon, September 20th. The Badgers were on their way to a record-setting day at a school that has 125 years of history. The team collected 756 total yards — 644 on the ground.
“I see this is a record that hasn’t been broken since the early 30s or something like that, but I really think it’s kinda cool to hold onto it and lead the collegiate league and say I had a great record to come across, and Melvin was a huge part of that,” Badgers RB Corey Clement said.
Melvin Gordon, of course, carried the load — with 253 yards. Badgers fans know all about him and Clement, but who’s this third string guy?
“He`s a great athlete I`m happy for him. We needed some more depth at running back and it looks like he`s starting to fill that role,” Badgers QB Tanner McEvoy said.
Sure, 94 yards in a little more than a quarter gets you noticed, but listed at #18, Dare Ogunbowale is a cornerback.
“Basically the offensive coaches saw him in a drill during camp that we call `speed in space` where it`s used for special teams drill. It`s used just to evaluate our talent and Dare was very hard to tackle in those situations and the offensive coaches came to me and said ‘you know, what do you think?'” Badgers Head Coach Gary Andersen said.
“I`ll stay as long as they let me, as long as they let me,” Ogunbowale said.
The Badgers switched Ogunbowale to offense during their first bye week. He was playing primarily on special teams.
In high school, the Marquette alumnus was a defensive standout. As a senior, he compiled 38 tackles, two interceptions and forced two fumbles on the football field. He was also a two-time basketball defensive player of the year. But when the opportunity to switch sides and play more snaps came up, Ogunbowale rushed at the chance.
“We do a drill called ‘speed and space’ and I was always one of the only guys that couldn`t be brought down and I would switch over to offense because we had low numbers at wide receiver, so I mean, I kinda saw it coming,” Ogunbowale said.
But could anyone see this coming? With a new number and a new position, Ogunbowale made his mark.
“He made that stamp. There will be no switching Dare no more,” Badgers RB Melvin Gordon said.
“He`s not gonna, you know, take out Melvin and Corey at this point for sure, but the ability for him to get into a game, have ball security, handle the offense, with a very, very young offensive line in there and have the production he had, that cannot go unnoticed,” Coach Andersen said.
“I don`t think Coach Brown said anything to be besides `keep the ball,’ so I mean the first carry I was pretty nervous, but after I broke through, I mean, we have an unbelievable line. Even the second string O-line is still one of the best O-line units, so I mean, the hole was huge so I just ran as far as I could. So after that, the butterflies got out of my stomach and I was just playing like it was practice,” Ogunbowale said.
If you told him a few weeks ago he’d come close to the century mark?
“I would have just waked away. I would have walked away and asked them to get checked by a doctor,” Ogunbowale said.
“He`s a great player man. He`s gonna be great here, you know? I`m excited to see how he grows, you know. It`s his first, you know, like, first week playing running back and to play like that, to come in the game and play like that and perform how he did, you know, I was telling Coach Brown, you know, you got two years with him after this, you know, you could teach him up and he could be a great player for us I feel,” Gordon said.
That’s high praise coming from one of the best running backs in the game.
Ogunbowale lives with Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. He says the house is crazy competitive, but living with and learning from those guys will only help his game.