NFL Draft: Former Herd star Dobson excited’ to join Patriots
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When former Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson paid a visit to the New England Patriots before the 2013 NFL Draft, he ran into two-time league MVP quarterback Tom Brady. The two only had time for a little small talk, but Dobson still was excited to meet him.
They'll have plenty of time to sit down and talk now.
The Patriots took Dobson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound South Charleston High graduate, in Friday's second round with the 59th overall pick. This is the third straight year a Marshall player has been taken in the NFL Draft and the first year since 2004 that a Kanawha County native was selected. The Minnesota Vikings picked former Capital High and Ohio State standout Darrion Scott in the third round that year.
Scouts Inc. actually nailed this pick in its mock draft, predicting the Patriots would grab Dobson with the 59th pick. But Dobson didn't consider it a certainty.
"I definitely knew they had some interest in me, but I didn't know they definitely were going to choose me with that selection," Dobson said. "But just how it all fell out, I'm just excited to start. I'm excited to be a Patriot and excited they picked me. I'm just ready to get to work."
And he's more than ready to work with Brady, who has done pretty well with former Marshall wideouts in the past. He's thrown to Troy Brown, who is tied with Dobson for fourth on the Thundering Herd's career touchdown receptions list with 24. He's also thrown to Randy Moss, who broke the NFL single-season touchdown receptions record by catching 24 with the Pats in 2007.
Now it's Dobson's turn.
"It's sunk in a little bit," he said. "It's just exciting to know that I have a chance to catch passes from one of the greats, the best quarterback in the league right now. It's amazing, because I've been watching him for so long. To be on the same team is just a blessing, for real."
While ESPN and the NFL Network promised not to spoil the surprise of each pick, Dobson's friend and Marshall teammate Andre Snipes-Booker kind of tipped his hand when, on Friday night, he tweeted, "Ahhhhhhhh lets gooooo!!!!" Dobson's selection came minutes after, and Snipes-Booker admitted Saturday that he tweeted that exclamation as Dobson's phone was ringing.
The Patriots could use a receiver with Dobson's size and athleticism. The two-deep on the team's website has no wideout taller than 6 feet. And it's not just Dobson's ability to make the spectacular catch - evident in his one-handed, backhanded touchdown catch against East Carolina that became a YouTube hit in 2011. Scouts were enamored in his ability at Marshall's frigid pro day to make catches in adverse conditions, something that will be commonplace in Massachusetts.
Dobson's measurements weren't the only thing that Patriots Coach Bill Belichick liked about Dobson. He respected the receiver's mind, too.
"You talk to him about what he did," Belichick said. "He can explain the techniques, his assignments, what other guys are doing at Marshall. We'd look at things that we did, then come back and talk about them. He remembered how we did them, how we call them, things like that. He's a pretty intelligent guy. He has good recall of what (Marshall) did. He had a good understanding and grasp of learning, taking new information, processing that and being able to understand it and apply it.
"Tell him something and then see a play a few plays later and say, 'What would you do on this play if they did this, they did that?' There's different ways to measure all that, but he's a pretty impressive kid. He's a mature kid. He's pretty smart."
And now he's an NFL draft pick. Dobson said he'll soon return to Patriots headquarters and get ready for his professional future. But he won't forget the opportunity Marshall, the only Football Bowl Subdivision school to offer him a scholarship, gave him.
"They really treated me well at Marshall," he said. "They were behind me 100 percent. They supported me through everything. I'm just glad they supported me."
And he won't forget where he grew up. From Kanawha County to Huntington, he's played in front of the same fans his entire career. Dobson is happy to show younger players that local players that their dreams could become reality.
"I just wanted to put us on the map, really," he said. "I wanted to help everyone see that, coming from West Virginia - it's such a small state and such a small town - they can still do it."
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DOBSON'S TEAMMATE Antavious Wilson wasn't drafted, but will head into an NFL camp. The receiver signed a rookie free agent deal Saturday with the New York Jets.
"I'm very excited to be on the Jets," Wilson said Saturday night. "Just being mentioned in the NFL in anything is a blessing. There's a lot of players out there who didn't get a call. For them to give me a call, that's a blessing."
Wilson finished his Thundering Herd career with 187 career catches for 2,269 yards and 18 touchdowns. Sixty-nine of those catches, 741 of those yards and nine of those scores came in 2012, when we earned honorable mention on the all-Conference USA team.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.