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In his fourth year with the program, Temple’s Kyle Dobbins emerges from a crowded backfield

Temple running back Kyle Dobbins has carved out a lane for himself and emerged from a crowded backcourt.

Temple running back Kyle Dobbins (33) runs the ball against Wagner at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Temple won, 41-7.
Temple running back Kyle Dobbins (33) runs the ball against Wagner at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Temple won, 41-7.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Kyle Dobbins struggled to maneuver his way into the Temple backfield rotation for almost four years. But, on Saturday, he finally saw his hard work pay off.

The redshirt sophomore running back found the end zone three times in the Owls’ 41-7 win over Wagner, recording his first three career touchdowns and aiding in a convincing win.

“It’s an amazing trick in football, and I say that completely facetiously, that when you practice good, you play good,” coach Rod Carey said of Dobbins. “It’s an amazing thing. Sometimes we like to look at highlight reels and think that just happens. It doesn’t. I was proud of Kyle.”

» READ MORE: Rod Carey aims to clean up penalties and rid Temple football of ‘self-inflicted wounds’

Dobbins became the first Owl to rush for three or more touchdowns in a single game since Ryquell Armstead punched in six scores in a 59-49 win against Houston in 2018.

In Temple’s previous three games, redshirt freshman Edward Saydee took the majority ofcarries. Despite Carey and running backs coach Gabe Infante having decided on a a committee approach at running back, Saydee carried much of the load.

Dobbins wasn’t even a close second in carries heading into Saturday, but he took the reins that day. Carey said he “attacked the week,” treating practice like a game, which bolstered his position heading into the weekend. Dobbins produced 61 yards on 13 carries, nearly doubling his career-high.

After the game he said that he changed his whole mindset in the week leading up to Wagner.

“I had to keep that mentality throughout the week because if you play like that in practice, you’re going to play like that in a game,” Dobbins said. “I was a [second string] from the start of the week, I just grinded and stayed disciplined to my assignments.”

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back joined Temple as part of the 2018 recruiting class and redshirted as a freshman, coming in with the 2018 recruiting class, then in 2019 sprained an ankle in practice, which set him back for the majority of the season. Last year, Dobbins earned his first game reps and had four carries against Memphis.

Now, in Year 4, he’s becoming a legitimate contender for reps among a crowded backfield rotation next to Saydee, redshirt junior Ra’Von Bonner, and graduate back Tayvon Ruley. Freshman Trey Blair is still listed as day to day with an injury and Carey said Iverson Clement is no longer with the program.

“We get to see it day in and day out, guys just making plays and executing,” said quarterback D’Wan Mathis. “To the fans and [the media] that’s new, but Dobbins has been doing that since we’ve been at SUNY [in training camp]. And since I got here, he’s been making plays. For me it was nothing new, I was just excited to see him make plays.”

» READ MORE: Temple rebounds from loss to smash Wagner, 41-7

Carey made it clear Saydee has still been the most consistent back and is “certainly the No. 1 guy” right now.

Dobbins’ performance against Wagner should bode well in helping him separate from the pack. He thinks it’s his power and explosiveness that work in his favor.

The South Jersey native was a highly regarded recruit coming out of Timber Creek High School, but it took some mental fortitude to keep pushing to find a role, knowing the opportunities would come.

“The biggest challenge is staying consistent,” Dobbins said. “I was questioning myself but had to stay focused. I feel proud of that. I feel proud of myself. … Just knowing that you put the work in, it’s a great feeling.”