Dare Ogunbowale is another in the long lineage of Wisconsin walk-ons having major success on the football field. The senior running back ran for 484 yards on 86 carries (5.6 ypc) and four touchdowns as a senior, following up a campaign in which he ran for 819 yards and a team best seven touchdowns.
Also a reliable receiver out of the backfield, Ogunbowale was the team’s third down back, tallying 58 catches over the past two seasons for 479 yards and two touchdowns.
His penchant for showing up in big games and his reliability on third down garnered the attention of the East-West Shrine Game. The prestigious all-star game confirmed via Twitter on Monday that Ogunbowale would participate in the event held on Jan. 21st at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While talking a backseat to senior Corey Clement as the team’s primary runner in 2016, Ogunbowale moonlighted as the team’s kick returner and was named a team captain. He showcased his talents this season under the lights against Nebraska, when he rushed for 120 yards on 11 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime. He also rushed for touchdowns against Georgia State, Minnesota, and in the Big Ten Championship game against Penn State. He also had the Badgers’ only touchdown in their 14-7 loss at Michigan on Oct. 1.
Ogunbowale is the only Badger to accept an invite to the East-West Shrine Game thus far. Quarterback Joel Stave, fullback Derek Watt, offensive tackle Tyler Marz and safety Michael Caputo played in the game in 2016, with Caputo intercepting Stave during the contest.
The Milwaukee native is an under-the-radar prospect on the national scene, but his ability to pass protect, along with his reliable hands out of the backfield, have gotten him to this point. He’s nearly impossible to tackle in space, and has shown steady growth at running back in each of his three seasons there.
All-star games aren’t usually the best showcase for running backs, as they’re playing with linemen with little to no chemistry with each other, along with vanilla offensive concepts, but Ogunbowale should make his money in this game during practices, where his acumen for the game along with hands and jitterbug elusiveness in the open field should attract the attention of NFL scouts.
As of right now, Vince Biegel (Senior Bowl) and Robert Wheelwright (NFLPA Game/Tropical Bowl) are the only other Badgers with All-Star game invites. Be on the lookout for Clement and secondary mates Sojourn Shelton and Leo Musso to also get looks on the All-Star circuit.
It also bears watching on the statuses of offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and outside linebacker T.J. Watt and if they declare for the NFL Draft.