Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Football: Ogunbowale trying to lock up running back spot in just his second season at the position

Jason Chan

Wisconsin redshirt junior running back Dare Ogunbowale will be the first to tell you that he is not the most athletic person in his family, despite being a running back at one of the top football programs in Division I.

Ahead of Ogunbowale is his sister, Arike, who was one of the top high school basketball recruits in the nation this past season as a senior. Arike scored 55 points in a WIAA Division I girls state tournament semifinal game in March and will head to one of the best women’s college basketball programs, Notre Dame, next fall.

Dare’s cousin? Those who follow Wisconsin basketball will know him quite well. Diamond Stone, like his cousin Arike, was one of the top high school basketball recruits this season. While Stone won’t be joining Dare in Madison, choosing Maryland over Wisconsin, he still sits above Dare on the family depth chart for athleticism.


His other cousin? Former Wisconsin basketball player Ryan Evans.

“I would definitely put myself at the end,” Ogunbowale said. “I’m kind of the bottom of the pack, so I have to step it up this season to get my ranking up.”

Ogunbowale did not come to Wisconsin as a running back. He was on defense. But in the middle of last season the coaches saw a streak of an offensive player in him during drills. With some injuries on offense, the coaches asked the then red-shirt sophomore to make the switch, putting him behind Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement.

“They saw that I had a little bit of positive skills kind of thing … when I have the ball in my hands,” Ogunbowale said. “So, coach Andersen, at the time, approached me about switching to it and I was all for it. Obviously seeing it as a change to get on the field more, so I embraced it and things have been going well so far.”

Right away, Ogunbowale showed those positive skills the first time he stepped onto the field as a running back.

In Wisconsin’s rout of Bowling Green last September, Ogunbowale ran for 94 yards on only 14 carries – it was a performance that even he wasn’t expecting.

“No. Especially in my first game playing running back,” Ogunbowale said.

“But I didn’t think I’d get however many yards I got, so it was an exciting experience, especially being at home at Camp Randall.”

Now, more than seven months after that breakout performance in a new position, Ogunbowale is working on becoming a true running back during Wisconsin’s spring practices.

He’s working with an entirely different coaching staff under head coach Paul Chryst.

Despite having to learn a new play book with new coaches, Ogunbowale said he has actually felt more comfortable in his position under new running backs coach John Settle.

He’s no longer a defensive back playing running back; he’s a running back.

“The old coaching staff let me play running back but coach Settle, he’s turned me into a running back, so that’s what I’m more happy about and I feel like I’m a running back now,” Ogunbowale said.

Clement, who will take over as the No. 1 running back this season with the departure of Gordon, can tell Ogunbowale is “a lot more” comfortable this season and can’t wait to see what the Milwaukee native can do in his fourth season as a Badger.

“It looks like he’s played running back for a few years now,” Clement said. “You wouldn’t even notice that he came over from a scout team player playing cornerback to coming over and doing the things that he’s doing now.”

But the challenges will continue to come Ogunbowale’s way as he hopes to become the backup to Clement this season ahead of redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal and incoming freshmen Jordan Stevenson and Bradrick Shaw.

He’ll be competing for playing time at one of the most prolific positional groups in all of college football, with a history of churning out some of the best running backs in the country including Gordon and Montee Ball.

“Obviously it’s a blessing,” Ogunbowale said. “It’s an honor to be a part of the great running backs that have come before us but I’m more worried about competing daily and making the whole running back corps get better.”

If Ogunbowale can secure the No. 2 running back spot behind Clement, he’ll not only climb the family rankings, but add to a Wisconsin running back group that has been known as one of the premier groups in the nation.

For now, Ogunbowale is satisfied simply competing for playing time on the offensive side of the ball.

“I’m a lot happier. Well, not necessarily happier but very happy to be playing running back,” he said. “I’m happy with this decision playing running back and the defense has been playing well so it’s good.”

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