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Sunday, June 26, 2022
Dare Ogunbowale

Six years ago, he was a 5-foot-1 soccer player. Three years ago, he was a walk-on cornerback. Now, Dare Ogunbowale is leading the Badgers in rushing.

Badger Bio: Ogunbowale growing into the gridiron

Dare Ogunbowale may have the most interesting name on the Badgers’ team, an absolute nightmare for public address announcers everywhere. He may also have the most interesting personality on the team.

An avid piano player with a Nigerian father, Ogunbowale didn’t begin playing football until he was a junior in high school. This was due to the fact that he stood at just 5-foot-1, 105 pounds until a growth spurt the summer after his sophomore year.

As a result, Ogunbowale played soccer growing up and continued to do so his freshman and sophomore year. It wasn’t until after his growth spurt that his dad, who came to America when he was 24, allowed him to play football and Ogunbowale switched from the soccer pitch to the gridiron. Ogunbowale knew the game of football well because of his devotion to the Green Bay Packers, but said that his dad, a lifelong soccer fan, struggled a bit more to pick up the concepts of the American game.

“My dad lived in England before he came here so he played rugby, so I guess that was the closest thing to American football,” Ogunbowale said. “Don’t tell him I said this, but he still doesn’t know some stuff. He thinks he’s John Madden.”

Although Ogunbowale has found his calling in football, the redshirt junior running back still misses soccer, where he played as a left wing or left forward and had a knack for finding the back of the net.

“Two of my buddies play on the soccer team here so I’ll sneak and play pick-up soccer with their team and the girls’ team sometimes,” Ogunbowale said. “Two years ago I played on an intramural team, until I found out I couldn’t do that.”

He also remains a huge fan of the game, saying that he watches professional soccer more than football, especially Bundesliga, Germany’s version of the English Premier League, and roots for Dortmund. Ogunbowale also used his athleticism on the court, playing point guard all four years of high school.

“I was a shooter, but something happened before my senior year and I just couldn’t shoot anymore,” Ogunbowale said. “I kinda got a yellow light, I couldn’t shoot as much as I wanted to.”

Off the field, Ogunbowale takes his talents to an entirely different place. Rather than vegging out on the couch and playing Madden or FIFA like most college kids in their free time, Ogunbowale plays the keyboard when he’s not busy with football or school. He started taking piano lessons when he was seven and continued to do so up until his freshman year of high school, playing often for his church.

“I kinda wish I had kept taking lessons throughout high school but now I still try to teach myself different skills,” Ogunbowale said. “I was definitely a lot better back when I was like 10 or 12. I was pretty good.”

Recently, fellow running back Corey Clement has got Ogunbowale into producing beats with his keyboard, but he stressed that there isn’t any mixtape coming out soon.

“We thought about it. It was very hard because Nigel [Hayes] took a shot at all the other sports on campus, so we were pretty close to making some,” Ogunbowale said. “But we were like, nah, we’re in football and we don’t want people to think we aren’t focusing. But I swear we were a couple minutes away from getting in the studio.”

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Ogunbowale did say there was a possibility that a track would come out in the spring, but wanted to make sure no one got too excited about it.

“We’re not gonna live up to the hype honestly. We’re not good on the mic,” Ogunbowale said.

Ogunbowale has started in the last two Badger games because of Clement’s injury and has shined in both games, rushing for a total of 187 yards. Yet, if not for his massive growth spurt, Ogunbowale may have been playing on the grass at the McClimon Soccer Complex rather than the turf of Camp Randall.

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