RECRUITING: Hobbs Keeps On Living The Dream

OVIEDO --- Randy Hobbs had to choke away the tears Wednesday as his son Corey was announced to the East squad for the January 7 US Army All-American Game that will be played at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio. Selection to the game means Corey Hobbs is one of American's 78 best high school football players, but it also is a testament to what he's done in just four short years. That's all the time that Corey has been playing organized football.

(Corey Hobbs profile)

Randy Hobbs knows he has ample reasons to be proud. Corey is a 4.1 student at Oviedo High School so academics are never going to be a problem. Corey has also worked hard in the weight room to become a strong, quick 6-5, 300-pound defensive tackle who is capable of taking over games in the middle. He was on everybody's recruit list but Corey ended the speculation back in the summer when he made a verbal commitment to play college football at the University of Florida.

"Well frankly, I don't think there are any words that describe how proud I am of him," said Randy Hobbs. "He is amazing. It is incredible everything he has achieved and I wish he could continue on the road he is on. It is just amazing how far he has gone already and the world is the limit, the world is his oyster."

One of the reasons Randy Hobbs is so amazed by his son is the fact that it wasn't until Corey got to high school that he ever got a chance to play football.

"The funny thing is, I played football for a long time and started in youth league and went all the way through playing college at North Carolina and played for a year out there," said Randy Hobbs. "The amazing thing about Corey is that he could never play when he was young even though he wanted to because he was so big.

"If you add up the games he has played it amounts to about 20 full games. He doesn't have a lot of experience. He has just excelled and gained experience with every game. I am just thrilled with what he has done so far. I think the more experience he gains the better he is going to be and I look forward to a great career for him."

Randy Hobbs wasn't the only proud parent. Corey's mother, Cynthia, was all smiles Wednesday, also. She can appreciate the hard work and sacrifices that her son has made to become an outstanding football player. She appreciates that her son's hard work the past four years will take him to the next level.

"I am unbelievably proud, this is just the end of a wonderful four years and the beginning of another great four years," said Cynthia Hobbs. "Corey has worked very hard since the year before his freshman year. He didn't start playing football until his freshman year so he knew he had some work to do. He has worked very hard with his trainer in the off-season and after practice while other kids were going home."

The trainer is Joe Ferrer, who has been working with Corey for the past four years. Ferrer says it didn't take him verylong to figure out that this was a young man with tremendous potential.

"I have been working with Corey since he was a ninth grader," Ferrer said. "I am familiar with the Gator coaches. I played at Notre Dame under Coach (Urban) Meyer, (Greg) Mattison, (Steve) Addazio and those guys. I have been working with Corey and teaching him everything I know and help cut the learning curve for him. I learned a bunch of things in my senior year and my years in the CFL and I am trying to teach him those things now, habits and tendencies, those kinds of things." "One thing about Corey, he is gong to outwork everybody and I told him from the first day we worked out, he would be a top five defensive lineman in the country. He didn't believe me. I told him he will because he shows up everyday with a great attitude. Low and behold, here he is, one of the top five in the country. He just has the attitude and perseverance to take him to the next level." Ferrer sees Hobbs as the kind of player who could be outstanding at the next level whether it is on offense or defense.

"I think his strength and he can play both sides of the ball," he said. "He has good feet and motor. His strength and quickness are his strong points. Coach (Mickey) Marotti will do some great things with him. I trained under those guys and they will be getting him to do the same things I have been."

Oviedo Coach Greg Register appreciates the way that Hobbs always gives 100 percent on the field or in the weight room. Hobbs is the only player he's ever had who started four years.

"I am not sure he knows how big he is yet," Register said. "He is just so strong. In the weight room he isn't the one setting the records, but he is just a big strong country boy. When the whistle blows he goes out there and just plays and is at full speed the whole time."

"He is the only player that I had in my 20 years as a coach that played four years and started as a freshman. His character is something special and he committed early. A lot of times that destroys a team. He shares everything with everybody and is a kid everybody loves."

Register says Hobbs started becoming a dominator on the football field early on in his career.

"My favorite memory from him was when we played Edgewater," said Register. "As a sophomore he was in the backfield the whole game. That defensive line kept us in the game that night and he led them."

When he was announced for the US Army team on Wednesday, Hobbs was able to share the moment with many of his classmates and most of his teammates. It was a festive occasion. There were banners and posters that praised Hobbs and the marching band was there to play the Oviedo fight song. Hobbs just soaked in all the pomp and circumstance.

"It was awesome and better than I expected," he said. "I was really impressed with the support I get from everyone at the school. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to play in this game. I saw the game as a kid and I told myself I wanted to play in that and I worked to play in that. I want to thank everyone that pushed me and especially my mom and dad."

The Army game will give Hobbs a chance to see how he stacks up against other great players from around the country. He's looking forward to the chance to compete with the best.

"I really want to see how I stack up with the other guys," Corey Hobbs said. "I want to go out there and make myself better and see what I need to work on for the next level."

Anything Hobbs does in San Antonio will be a huge plus for the Florida Gators. The entire week of the US Army Game will a virtual advertisement for the Gators since Hobbs is a Florida recruit. You can also mark it down that he will be touting the Gators and the Florida coaching staff to any uncommitted players whom the Gators are interested in signing.

His decision to commit to Florida wasn't all that difficult. He saw a school that had everything he wanted, coaches that were just the type he wanted to play for and a close team that maintains an almost family atmosphere.

"When I visited, they seemed excited about the season coming up and really want to get after it and that's how I play," he said. "I hit hard … that's what I do. They are a real close team and it was an easy decision. I'm not sure exactly what to expect at first. I am looking forward to getting up there and playing my best. I will give it my best shot and do whatever the coaches need me to do. College football is going to be fun. I know it is going to be a lot of work but I am going to make the best of it and try my hardest."

Hobbs is excited about the recruiting class the Gators are starting to put together. He believes this is a class on the verge of becoming very special.

"Yes, definitely I think it will be great," he said about the class. "The ball is going to get rolling and a snowball effect. It's going to get bigger and bigger."

Although Randy Hobbs played college football for North Carolina, he grew up a Gator fan. There wasn't any doubt where the family wanted Corey to spend the next four years. Gainesville was a unanimous choice.

"My mom and my dad both graduated from the University of Florida and I was born on the UF campus," said Randy Hobbs. "I used to go to the Gator games all the time. I guess you could say I've been a Gator fan since before I was born,"

While Florida may have been the family favorite all along, they went out of their way to let Corey make his own choice. They didn't push one school or another and to facilitate a final decision, Randy and Corey took a road trip together to check out a few schools. That road trip was the beginning of Corey's unique Father's Day gift for his dad.

"Corey and I went on a ten day tour of the SEC," said Randy. "We borrowed a buddy's RV. We spent two days at each college. We went to Florida State, LSU, Alabama, Georgia and then finished at UF. The following day Corey went to a one-day lineman's camp in Gainesville. Unbeknownst to me, he went ahead and committed orally to Coach Meyer, but told Meyer he didn't want him to tell me until Father's Day. On Father's Day at 6 p.m., we were barbequing and the phone rang. It was Coach Meyer and he told me, 'Mr. Hobbs, your son is going to be a Florida Gator.' I was so choked up, I started crying."

"I never actually told Corey about whom to select. I just tried to facilitate the tour and let him visit each school and see what he liked. Urban Meyer and the whole staff have treated us like family. Corey just thought it was the place for him and wanted Coach Meyer to share it with me on Father's Day."

Coach Register agrees with the decision for Hobbs. He appreciates the forthright nature of the Florida coaching staff and thinks Hobbs has a bright future at Florida.

"I am sure glad he picked Florida," Register said. "It is a nice place to go and we are all impressed with Coach Meyer and what he is doing. It's going to be a nice fit for Corey."

Wednesday's celebration was another milestone in the football journey of Corey Hobbs. There will be another milestone at the end of the school year when he packs his bags and leaves home. Corey will be leaving high school behind and leaping feet first into the world of big time college football. Not only that, he will be on his own, away from home making adult decisions and choices. No matter how far football takes him or where life leads him, though, he will always be Cynthia Hobbs "little boy."

"Thank heaven it [Gainesville] is only two hours away," said Cynthia. "We have thought about it a lot and have shared some tears over it. We had some tears today, also." Those were the tears that only mamas understand. Those were tears she will remember and treasure the rest of her life.

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