Dobbs' Heisman Hopes Get a Boost from Obama

The purpose of Monday's ceremony at the White House was to honor the 2009 Navy football team which beat Air Force and Army to capture its seventh consecutive Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. However, even before the President's remarks had concluded, it became evident that this event was also serving as a good public venue to unofficially kick-off a campaign for another piece of hardware.

If you are going to start a campaign for something, there may be no better place to kick it off than at the White House. And even though no Naval Academy official will probably acknowledge it, Ricky Dobbs' bid for the Heisman Trophy began this week at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – the same place he one day hopes his aspiring political career will come to a successful conclusion.


President Barack Obama recognized the heralded junior (or rising senior) for his impressive play in 2009 when he broke the record for rushing touchdowns in a season (27) for a quarterback. The President also noted that the previous record was held by former Florida quarterback (and past Heisman winner) Tim Tebow. And with that, President Obama shook Ricky's hand – a Kodak moment that would make for a good addition to any Heisman hopeful poster coming to mailboxes (hopefully mine included) this summer.


Of course nobody at Navy could have predicted this moment or the one that followed when the President mentioned how Dobbs would not mind occupying a certain government office in 2040. But it definitely is reasonable to think that nobody in uniform was surprised by it either.


Perhaps more obvious than this ceremony serving as an unofficial start to any Heisman campaign, was the overall feeling in the East Room that this was now Ricky Dobbs' team. Sure, there were 32 very deserving seniors in attendance, as well as a great supporting cast of underclassmen (including junior Wyatt Middleton), but conversations about Navy football in the foreseeable future will always start and end with Dobbs.


As much as the hype surrounding Dobbs is much deserved, it is equally unfamiliar territory for the Navy football team. Some will argue that the excitement is similar to when Chris McCoy was returning for his senior year in 1997 after putting up gaudy numbers as a junior (1,228 yards and 17 TDs). Older Navy fans will point to Napoleon McCallum's 1985 season which was hyped by Sports Illustrated and later chronicled by the LA Times. Ironically, even though both McCoy and McCallum had good seasons from a statistical standpoint, their teams did not meet the lofty expectations placed on them. McCoy's 1997 team opened with a loss to San Diego State and after five games, Navy was 2-3. McCallum's 1985 team opened with three consecutive losses and finished the season 4-7.


It is safe to assume that Dobbs' chances of winning the Heisman are remote; however if Navy can run off a few victories at the beginning of the season, including beating in-state rival Maryland in its opener, the rising senior's name should at least stay in the discussion.


Regardless of how the 2010 season pans out for both Dobbs and his teammates, Monday was a day that neither will soon forget. It was easy to tell from all of their reactions that going to the White House will always be a special occasion and indeed, meeting a President, some for the fourth time, is not getting old. Furthermore, it's a safe bet that if Dobbs had to choose whether to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after next season to accept a shiny silver trophy or go to Manhattan in December to receive a cast bronze one that he'd choose the quick trip down Route 50 in a heartbeat.


Of course if both should happen, 2010 might be remembered as the best season ever in Navy football history. One thing is for sure, Navy fans will know a lot more the chances of that dream becoming a reality in 123 days when the Midshipmen meet the Terrapins in Baltimore.





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