Dobbins, Taylor add another chapter to running back rivalry

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Ohio State running back J. K. Dobbins speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins spent three seasons vying for the title of Big Ten's best running back.

Dobbins' case begins with the three shiny conference championship rings he won playing at Ohio State. Taylor's argument shows up in a trophy case full of hardware he earned at Wisconsin.

Now two of the conference's most prolific runners find themselves engaged in yet another competition: Becoming the first running back selected in this spring's NFL draft.

“It's been fun, especially this past year," Taylor said, standing at the same podium Dobbins used just a few minutes earlier. “I've always enjoyed going against those guys just because you come to the Division I level to play against the best guys in the country and O-State is one of those teams that is an elite team. So you have to enjoy that competition."

Taylor leaves nothing to chance when taking on the opposition.

He worked out with the Badgers track team to become a more explosive runner. He used the JUGS machines to improve as a receiver. He learned to modify his breathing, which he credits for helping him maintain focus, and last year he added yoga to his workout routine because it helped with his flexibility and recovery time.

The results have been staggering.

He's the only FBS player to rush for more than 6,000 yards in three seasons, the only FBS player with three straight seasons over 1,900 yards and the only Wisconsin player with three top-10 finishes in Heisman Trophy voting. He won the Doak Walker Award each of the past two years, was selected as the Big Ten's top freshman in 2017 and its best runner the past two seasons.