Last season, the emergence of then-freshman running back J.K. Dobbins took all the headlines of the Ohio State running game.
Dobbins, coming into the starting lineup as a true freshman because of a hamstring injury to then-redshirt sophomore and starting running back Mike Weber, came out of the gates in 2017 firing. In the opening game against Indiana, Dobbins rushed for 181 yards on 29 carries, breaking the school record for most yards by a freshman in their debut.
On the season, Dobbins broke the program record for rushing yards by a freshman, ending the year with 1,403 yards on the ground and second team All-Big Ten honors.
Weber ended his 2017 campaign with 640 rushing yards in 12 games played, often taking a back seat while Dobbins emerged as the consistent starter.
However, in the 2018 season opener against Oregon State, it was Weber who reminded everyone of his ability.
Weber ended the 77-31 victory against the Beavers with 20 carries for 186 yards and three rushing touchdowns, both career highs, as well as a reception touchdown, the first of his career.
“It feels good, because I know my expectations of myself so I know what I can do,” Weber said. “I just have to go out there and just do it for the team and actually show people what I can do, and it’s starting to show a little.”
Weber had five more carries than Dobbins, who ended the day with 74 yards on 15 rushes.
Splitting carries may sound like an issue to some, but for Weber, it’s much more of a positive than a negative.
“There’s a reason why I came back, because we knew that we was going to split carries, but splitting carries is actually good on the body for both of us,” Weber said. “We’re both gonna eat for the rest of the season, and I can’t wait for it to happen.”
Against Oregon State, Weber had three rushes of 20 yards or more, including a 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Though Dobbins has been seen as the running back with more speed to Weber’s power, it was the latter who broke to open space on a handful of occasions in Ohio State’s opener.
Acting head coach Ryan Day had plenty of praise for Weber’s performance, not just on Saturday, but in his offseason work.
“Really proud of the way Mike has practiced. We’ve been talking about that for a while now,” Day said. “That was really good to see him play well today.”
Weber and Dobbins sat out the majority of the fourth quarter, allowing time for freshman running backs Brian Snead and Master Teague to show their talents.
Both running backs from the 2018 recruiting class made their way to the end zone: Snead on a two-yard run and Teague on a 33-yard run.
Snead and Teague earned most of their reps when the game was out of hand, thanks in major part to Weber, who broke a career high while being a part of four of Ohio State’s 11 touchdowns on the day.
For Weber, a season removed from never being fully healthy, a season removed from being forced to live in the shadow of Dobbins’ success, he has made an immediate impact to Ohio State’s offense.
“Something just told me to come back with my brothers and get another year at it and, hopefully, stay healthy and do what I can to help the team win,” Weber said. “I’ve been counted out a lot, in the offseason, during the season last year, I just stay humble, just keep doing what I got to do to prove people wrong.”
Mike Weber is an outstanding running back who ran for over 1,000 yards as a freshman, added another 600-plus yards during a sophomore season that was slow to start because of injury, and is now healthy and ready to be a big-time producer for the Buckeyes … he and sophomore J.K. Dobbins give the Buckeyes one of the best one-two punches at running back in the Big Ten and possibly nationally … Weber, a fourth-year junior, is a veteran of 25 games with 13 starts … he enters the 2018 campaign with 1,722 career rushing yards and a career average of 6.1 yards per carry … he also has 33 career receptions for an additional 185 yards, six 100-yard rushing games and 19 rushing touchdowns … he rushed for 626 yards in 2017 and scored 10 touchdowns, all while coming off the bench … he displayed breakaway speed, as well: he went 82-yards for a score against Michigan State and he has four rushes of over 40 yards … had a career-best 53-yard reception vs. Maryland … he rushed for a career-high 162 yards against Michigan State’s No. 3 rated rush defense … Weber had a terrific freshman campaign in 2016, being named a freshman All-American after rushing for 1,096 yards in his rookie season and catching 23 passes out of the backfield, for 91 yards … he was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the year … he was just the third Ohio State freshman, joining Robert Smith (1,126 yards in 1990) and Maurice Clarett (1,237 yards in 2002), to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season … Weber is majoring in sociology.
Honors and Awards
2016: Big Ten Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year; Freshman All-American (ESPN and Football Writers Association of America), Second-team All-Big Ten Conference (coaches and media)
Weber came to Ohio State a consensus 4-star prospect who rushed for 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior in 2014 despite missing three games for coach Thomas Wilcher’s state semifinalist squad … he averaged 10.1 yards per carry and Wilcher called him the best back in the Detroit Public School League in the last 30 years … was considered a Top 100 player nationally, with high overall rankings of No. 69 by Scout, No. 71 by Rivals, No. 80 by 247Sports and with a 140 rank on the ESPN 300 … considered the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan (Scout) and considered a Top 10 running back nationally by Rivals (No. 8), Scout (No. 9) and 247Sports (No. 9) … a first-team Associated Press all-state honoree as a senior and was twice named the Proud Strong Learner of the Week in the DPSL … rushed for a state record 404 yards and five touchdowns in a regional championship win over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley … rushed for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns in Cass Tech’s four-game run through the state playoffs in 2014 … a finalist for the Michigan state player of the year award and a co-recipient of the Detroit player of the year award … a U.S. Army All-American … parents are Toni and Mike Weber Sr.