UK Football: Freshman RB Mobley convinced he can hold his own in talented backfield
Kentucky freshman Dyshawn Mobley (33), with fellow running back Justin Taylor, is a self-described "power back" who set Tennessee single-season rushing records with 3,068 yards and 44 touchdowns in his senior season at Powell High School. (Clay Jackson / August 15, 2012)
Mobley is finding his place within the stable of running backs at Kentucky, where he is both impressed by the talent that surrounds him and convinced that he belongs among it.
Like many freshman runners, he has gone from being the fastest player on the field to being just another guy who can run. And he said he realized that right away once the Wildcats’ seven-on-seven workouts began earlier this summer.
“That woke me up, because everybody out there — I thought I was fast before I came up here, but now everybody’s fast, and everybody’s big. There’s a bunch of fast athletes and big athletes that can play football,” Mobley said.
Mobley said he’s not just competing against the other talented players at his position, but also learning from them.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity to be able to play with these guys, Jonathan George, CoShik Williams, they’re some great backs. I look up to these guys because I’m a freshman and they’re older than me, so I’m going to take some of their style of running and mix it into mine, see if they can teach me a lesson,” he said.
For starters, he has taken note of the veterans’ work habits.
“They just work hard. I’ve never seen a group of people work as hard as our running back group does,” he said.
While he has gotten to know all of his fellow running backs over the last few weeks, he might be closest to Justin Taylor, the only other back in Kentucky’s most recent recruiting class.
“We definitely hang out a lot,” Mobley said. “Our rooms are right next to each other. I always go over to his room, play around and kid up with him, play games, study film.”
He said it became clear to him early on that he and Taylor and all of the other backs are working toward the same goal, even if not all of them can have it.
“We just really want the best player on the field,” Mobley said. “We just want to win football games. It really doesn’t matter who starts; we just want to win football games.”
He said he also likes to work hard and said he thinks that’s he’s up for the competition that is taking place now in the Wildcats’ preseason camp.
“I like to compete, and anything they can do I’m pretty sure I can do,” he said. “I’ve definitely got to learn the system. Once I learn the system, I hope the coaches trust me enough to get a couple reps on offense.”
Mobley has worked to earn that opportunity by adding weight — mostly in his legs, he said — going from about 205 pounds last summer to 219 when he came to Lexington to 226 last week and becoming a poster child for the benefits of a good breakfast.
“I never ate breakfast before, now I eat breakfast, and that really put the weight on,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to put that much weight on, but eating breakfast is definitely a part of growing.”
Of course, he increased his work in the weight room as well as his caloric intake.
“Just working out, lifting weight that I know I can’t lift, but just having somebody spot me, that gets me stronger,” he said. “It’s definitely good to be a bigger back in the SEC. Everybody that I’ve seen play college ball, they’ve got some big backs that can run the ball.”
Mobley, who calls himself “a power back” who says he prefers to run between the tackles but can also go outside, comes to Kentucky with impressive high school credentials. He set Tennessee single-season rushing records with 3,068 yards and 44 touchdowns in his senior season and leading his Powell High School team to the state finals. He finished his prep career with 5,849 yards and 76 touchdowns, then signed with Kentucky last winter.
“Family is a big part of this Kentucky team, and that’s what I like about it,” he said. “(The coaches) really told me it was just a family thing, and that’s what I’m really big on is family. They told me, ‘You come down here and you’ll love it, and that’s why I’m here now.”
He came to Kentucky from the long shadow of Tennessee — his hometown is just 10 miles or so north of downtown Knoxville and the Volunteers’ Neyland Stadium — and he said many of his friends are Tennessee fans.
“Oh, yeah,” he said before adding that he has managed to win some of them over. “A lot of them are Kentucky fans now, though.”