J.K. Dobbins knows the history of No. 27 in Baltimore with Ray Rice. He knows Rice, like him, was the 55th-overall pick of his draft class.
But that's not why Dobbins chose to wear No. 27. Speaking on Instagram Live Thursday evening, the Ravens' rookie second-round pick said it's a shout out to his late father.
"I always wore it in pee wee football. It was my dad's number," Dobbins said. "My dad passed when I was 15. So the reason why I wear No. 27 is to honor my father."
Dobbins' father, Lawrence, was a star running back at the same high school where J.K. played – La Grange High in Texas. However, Lawrence never got to see his son become a star because he died of a stroke while in prison.
Dobbins wore No. 22 in high school instead of No. 27, then No. 2 at Ohio State.
"In high school, I feel like most teenagers have that stage where they want to rebel or be their own person," Dobbins said. "I wanted to be my own person instead of following and doing what my dad wore."
His father's death was a turning point in Dobbins' life. He went on to rush for more than 5,000 yards and score 80 touchdowns in three varsity seasons, becoming a four-star recruit with scholarship offers from all the biggest programs.
One of the players he looked up to in high school was Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State. Ultimately, Dobbins would post even bigger college numbers than Elliott.
Last season, Dobbins became the first running back in Ohio State history to top 2,000 rushing yards and the first player to ever run for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Dobbins said it did mean something to him to top Elliott's college numbers. Elliott was drafted No. 4 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 while Dobbins came off the board 51 picks later.
"When I was in high school, I was watching Zeke run up and down the field against Alabama and Oregon and won a national championship. Me, I wanted to do the same things," Dobbins said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to the national championship. But passing him and doing things – I don't want to say better – but the same level as him, was a dream come true."
Dobbins has surely heard the comparisons to Rice since joining the Ravens. They have a similar size and running style. They also both entered the NFL behind a veteran who had just gone to the Pro Bowl – Mark Ingram II and Willis McGahee. Rice wore No. 27 during his six-year career in Baltimore, which included three Pro Bowl trips and a Super Bowl victory in 2012.
"Ray Rice was an amazing player. People make mistakes," Dobbins said. "But I wear that number for myself because I want to set a legacy for my own self in that number. And last time someone wore that number, it brought a Super Bowl, so that's all I'm trying to do."