Dobson will finish eligibility with Herd
HUNTINGTON - A throng of media huddled around quarterback Rakeem Cato on Tuesday after Marshall's first football practice of the spring.
A few feet away, rising senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson stood alone, helmet in hand and waiting his turn.
Dobson finally spoke about his decision to file paperwork with the NFL Draft advisory board, the league's subsequent evaluation and his choice to play out his eligibility with the Herd.
Defensive lineman Vinny Curry made the same call last offseason, but announced it while sitting behind a table in a media room inside the Henderson Center with cameras rolling and scribes scribbling.
There was nary an announcement for Dobson, not that he begrudges Curry for spicing up the offseason with a little suspense.
By the time Dobson discussed the decision, he had a spring practice under his belt and the Shewey Building in the background, not a green backdrop screen covered in Marshall and Pepsi logos.
"I really felt like I was going to come back either way," said Dobson, who had 668 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns last season. "I just felt like I wasn't going to be a draft pick I wanted to be, so I could come back for my senior year, win a conference championship and improve my draft stock."
And while there wasn't the media attention or fanfare regarding that decision, like there was with Curry, the former South Charleston High School multisport star and Dunbar resident sees his former teammate and NFL aspirant as the archetype for players who stiff-armed the temptation of pro football.
"(The NFL) said the same thing to Vinny that they said to me," Dobson said. "I talked to the coaches and I said I wanted to come back and mature more."
Curry, who some draft pundits have projected as a first- or second-round pick this April, requested an evaluation from the NFL Draft advisory board after the 2010 season. Curry, then coming off an impressive junior campaign, was told he'd be a mid-round selection.
Dobson received a similar evaluation: positive, but not overwhelming enough to forgo a year of collegiate eligibility.
That decision elated second-year receivers coach Gerad Parker, who has three of the team's six seniors at his position (Antavious Wilson and Andre Booker are the others).
"Do I believe in Aaron Dobson? Absolutely," Parker said when asked if his star pupil made the right call. "But, I think this year and him staying here is really going to help him. I do."
Curry returned for his senior season, became a team captain and dotted numerous All-American teams.
He rocketed up career lists in several categories and developed into a beloved figure on campus and among Herd fans.
"It's good to be able to see that and use Vinny as an example of a guy who has worked his tail off and now has a great opportunity ahead of him," Parker said. "No. 3 (Dobson's jersey number) has a chance, too. We'll see what he can do."
Dobson has 108 receptions for 1,719 yards and 21 touchdowns through three seasons.
His projected numbers have him finishing his career in the top 10 in catches, top five in receiving yards and top three in receiving touchdowns in program history.
He noted the blemishes on his NFL evaluation and wants to build a junior season in which he had four multi-touchdown games and four TDs in his final two games.
"I need to be a more vocal leader," he said. "I've got to come out and lead the team, lead the offense and keep making big plays like last year.
"Physically I need to get stronger. I've got the hands and stuff, but I've got to get stronger.
"I'm happy to be back."
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CATO, A 6-1, 180-pound rising sophomore, is the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the Marshall roster this spring.
Blake Frohnapfel, a 6-6, 229-pound redshirt freshman, is recovering from offseason surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder.
The Colonial Forge, Va., native isn't throwing in practice, instead saving that work for non-practice days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) with trainers.
Frohnapfel had the arthroscopic procedure performed Nov. 28, two days after the conclusion of the regular season. At the time, Frohnapfel was told he could resume throwing by spring drills.
He isn't there yet, but there is a chance the QB could participate, in some degree, in the annual Green-White Game on April 28.
"Hopefully I can start throwing in the next couple of weeks," he said. "I probably won't be back to full strength until early summer.
"I'm hoping I can do a little for the spring game."
Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.