By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
While the former face of Marshall football was waiting for a life-changing phone call, the next in line was prepping for his final spring game.
Aaron Dobson, a rising senior receiver, says the game has slowed considerably for him. He and the rest of the offense will get to show off what he feels is vast improvement at today’s annual Green and White Game. Kickoff from Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be 2 p.m.
“The offense looks really good,” Dobson said after Friday’s practice. “You can always get better, but our tempo has really improved. I look for the offense to do well.”
With Dobson still on board, and with quarterback Rakeem Cato no longer having to learn on the fly, the Marshall offense could indeed provide a few sparks this fall.
It almost didn’t happen, though, when Dobson filed paperwork to test the waters of the NFL Draft. He never signed with an agent and eventually decided to return for his senior season — he has said the plan was to come back all along, anyway.
It’s basically the same path ventured by defensive end Vinny Curry, who came back for his senior year after considering entering the draft a year early. But Curry returned and his face became synonymous with Thundering Herd football.
All Curry did was win Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors, and on Friday he became the latest Herd player selected in the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles took him in the second round (59th overall).
That opens the door for Dobson to become the new face of the program. And that’s a role he readily accepts.
“That would definitely be a great role that I could take on,” he said. “I want to be able to follow in (Curry’s) footsteps.”
Third-year head coach Doc Holliday sees the connection.
“I kind of compare him to Vinny Curry a little bit,” Holliday said. “We talked to Vinny about this time last year, about the progress he has to make, and he did that. We talked about being conference player of the year to playing in a bowl game, to winning the bowl game to improving his draft status. Aaron has to do the same thing.
“That happened to Vinny because he worked extremely hard and Aaron has done the same thing. I’m excited to see him out there. If he makes the same improvement from his junior year to his senior year that he has made to this point, we’re going to have an exciting player. It’s our job as coaches to make sure he gets the ball, especially more than he did last season.”
As a junior, Dobson had 49 receptions for 668 yards and 12 touchdowns. Of course, there was one catch — “The Catch” — that will forever be remembered.
Against East Carolina, Dobson went up for a pass in the end zone, back-handed the catch with his right hand and fell to the turf for a touchdown with 39 seconds to play before halftime. The Herd went on to win 34-27 and became bowl-eligible.
Dobson, a South Charleston High graduate, says he still gets comments on “The Catch,” which was that night’s SportsCenter Play of the Day on ESPN.
“People ask me how I did it and I can’t explain it,” Dobson said. “I still don’t know how I did it.”
The quarterback who launched that pass has been a sight to behold this spring, Dobson said.
“He has progressed a lot,” Dobson said of Cato. “To see him as a true freshman last season and throughout this spring, he has progressed a lot.”
Today will wrap up a spring season that Dobson views as the perfect break to the offseason doldrums.
“December to August in a long break,” he said. “You get back into football mode and it’s like a minicamp.”
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