Marshall's Dobson awaiting draft call
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bobby Dobson vividly remembers his son's college debut in Blacksburg, Va., the jolting moment that it was.
It was Sept. 12, 2009 and freshman Aaron Dobson's Marshall team was getting thrashed by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Hokies were up 45-7 after three quarters, and Andre Booker's redshirt had already bitten the dust.
In the fourth quarter, Aaron Dobson hit the field. Much like every other green-shirted Marshall fan left in Lane Stadium, the father muttered some version of "what"?
"I was looking forward to the redshirt year. I think he was, also," Bobby Dobson said. "He thought he had the talent to play, but that was still 'men against boys' at that time. So he had in mind, 'I'll get bigger and stronger, learn the offense, learn the ropes' and next year he'll go out and compete for a starting position."
But in this second game of the 2009 season, the future became the present.
"We had no idea, especially with the score of the game at the time they put him in," Bobby Dobson said. "We're like, 'OK, this is over with, nothing to worry about.' Then all of a sudden, we saw him and Andre on the field. I said, 'Wow. What is happening?'
"You know, it all worked out for the best."
Nobody will ever know how much better Marshall's upcoming team would have performed with Aaron Dobson as a fifth-year senior. It is uncertain how much higher his NFL stock would be a year from now.
But this much we know: Dobson will be drafted, possibly on Friday when the second and third rounds are telecast on ESPN. The first round airs at 8 p.m. today; the Friday schedule starts at 6:30 p.m. and the draft resumes at noon Saturday.
There is some disparity among draft analysts on where and when he will go.
On NFL.com Monday, Josh Norris released a 1-through-254 mock draft, pegging Dobson in the fourth round, 122nd overall to the Green Bay Packers.
ESPN rates Dobson as the ninth-best receiver - in one interesting comparison, West Virginia's Stedman Bailey is 10th. In Mel Kiper's "Grade A" draft, in which he played general manager of all 32 teams, he selected Dobson 65th overall, in the third round by the Detroit Lions.
Wherever he gets drafted, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder stands to be the first Kanawha Valley native selected in nine years, since Capital's Darrion Scott was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2004 draft.
It will be a proud moment for the town of Dunbar, South Charleston High and, most important, the Dobson family.
"I'm pleased as punch. I'm proud of him," Bobby Dobson said. "I thank the Lord every day. Coming from a small town like we are in Dunbar, you don't have many that have made that transition from the college ranks, where we've had so many great college players."
Bobby Dobson, who coaches track and field at SC High, coached his son in middle school track, witnessing the roots of his athleticism. From there, Aaron also began his successful basketball and football careers.
At Marshall, Bobby Dobson was among the 22,456 who witnessed his son's stupefying backhand touchdown catch in the 2011 regular-season finale against East Carolina. But that wasn't Dad's favorite "there's my son" play.
"My favorite play was that touchdown against WVU, the 90-something-yarder," he said. "And if we could have finished up that game, it would have definitely been sealed as my favorite play."
Remember that Aaron Dobson outran a future NFL defensive back, Keith Tandy, to snag that Brian Anderson throw in stride. That pretty much answered all questions about whether he had sufficient speed for the Herd's "X" position.
Bobby Dobson saw that evolution and explains it well.
"As a young kid, he was extremely fast, ran a lot of AAU track," he said. "I think, during middle school and the first part of high school, he started to grow in length. He started to run frightened, to me. I don't know if he was awkward in trying to catch up with his [height], whatever, but it seemed like once he got in college, he steadied up and he's gotten back to that speed he had as a youth."
And then some. That speed helped place Aaron Dobson in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and has had him interviewing with just about all 32 teams since. He has trained in Knoxville, Tenn., with Bobby Petrone, a longtime trainer of Chad Pennington who also had mentored MU alum Lee Smith.
Teams have been calling Aaron Dobson this week to tell him they're planning to take him, but the only certainty there is uncertainty. Tonight, and really Friday, the waiting process begins.
The family, including Aaron, will gather at the Dobson residence in Dunbar, playing cards and other games during all that down time between picks.
"I think I'm past the nervous part. I'm more anxious like he is. I just want to see where he's going to be," Bobby said. "Hopefully it's a good fit, as far as the offense, receiving corps, quarterback and things of that nature, where he can go in and make an impact.
"It's going to be a steep learning curve, but I'll still put him against anybody out there."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.