Without fail, Cardinalmaniacs™ fret about recruiting cornerbacks every year. It is one of the great mysteries and frustrations for Stanford Football that the vast majority of cover corners in the country have an inverse relationship between their GPA and 40 time. Once in a blue moon, a special student-athlete comes along and bucks that trend. Chris Hobbs, Jr. from Marietta High School (Marietta, Ga.) has run a 4.32 while also recently displaying the academic credentials to gain admission to Stanford. His name has been a quiet one through most of this recruiting year, but Hobbs quickly became one of the top targets to follow in a year where defensive backs are a must.
The Georgia cornerback took his first official visit this past weekend to The Farm and committed to Walt Harris on Saturday after attending the exciting men's basketball upset of Arizona. Both the recruit and the coach were all smiles.
"I was talking with Coach Harris in his office after the basketball game," Hobbs describes. "I let him know that I was coming to Stanford, and he seemed very excited. He was happy to get that news and said he couldn't wait to get me back out here. I'm excited to be committed, and it's also a relief."
The cornerback recruit was hosted by future position mate Carlos McFall, who visited and committed at this same time last year. Hobbs gives credit to his host for making the weekend an easy and comfortable one.
"He was just really cool," Hobbs says of McFall. "He introduced me to a lot of people. He helped put everything into perspective for me. Carlos is from Texas, and I'm from the South, so he understood what it was like to come to a different place like California. He said he really liked it a lot."
Distance was indeed an issue that weighed on the mind of the Marietta man and his family. It is not a facile decision to cut loose and travel 3,000 miles to a foreign place, all alone, for four or five years. In some instances, there may be perfect chemistry between the recruit and Stanford, but a nervous mother can put down her foot to keep her baby close to home. The Cardinal have been burned on numerous occasions with All-Americans who were ready to commit but had parents keep them close to home. In this instance, it was the encouragement of Hobbs' parents that made it OK for him to commit to Stanford. Both his mother, Debra, and father, Chris Sr., attended the official visit weekend with their boy.
"It is pretty far from home, but my dad said before I know it, the four years would be over," the son allows. "He says this is the best opportunity I have. And it's a 40-year commitment, not a four-year commitment, I'm making for my life. I also have family in Oakland - an uncle - so that helps."
It didn't hurt that Hobbs had the chance to meet a handful of Georgians while he was on campus, letting him know that he would not be alone, after all, in making the jump from the Peach State to Palo Alto.
"I talked with [senior cornerback] Calvin Armstrong from Decatur, which is the same high school where my uncle teaches," Hobbs begins. "Also [senior linebacker] Kevin Schimmelmann from Lassiter [High School], which isn't too far. Then there was Tim Morris on the basketball team - Whitefield Academy is near my high school. Also Shelley Nweke from the women's team is from my high school. She has two brothers, and one of them played on my team last year."
Other experiences made a big impact on the athlete, including watching the football team work out on Friday playing basketball. Winter conditioning drills are grueling for players, but a recent tradition started under strength & conditioning coach Ron Forbes is to have so-called soirées on Friday afternoons, where the players engage in a different sport or constructed event. It allows the athletes to push themselves hard at the end of a long week with something that gets their competitive juices flowing.
"They all looked like they were having a great time," Hobbs relates. "You could tell they all liked each other and they liked to compete at everything they do."
The weather had its ups and downs, with more rain and cool temperatures that Stanford normally can offer on a January recruiting weekend. But the Georgia native found the California surroundings to his liking. It was not only his first ever visit to the Cardinal campus but also his first time in the Golden State.
"I loved the campus. It was beautiful," Hobbs emotes. "It reminded me of Florida. It rained while I was out there, but it was beautiful when it wasn't raining. They have a very big campus."
The Saturday commitment to Walt Harris locks up a talented and needed cornerback for the Cardinal, but it does not put an end to Hobbs' recruiting activities. He had scheduled official trips to Ball State (Jan. 14), Southern Miss (Jan. 21) and UAB (Jan. 28) and says he will still visit those schools. Hobbs is not wavering in his Stanford commitment, but he can't see himself passing up the chance for the varied schools to host and woo him.
"I'm still going to take my visits. This experience only happens once in a lifetime, and I want to enjoy myself," he explains. "[Stanford quarterback commit] Tavita Pritchard got my number and said he's going to call me every day while I'm on my visits to make sure I'm solid with Stanford," Hobbs laughs.
Chris Hobbs, Jr. was a standout for Marietta HS on both sides of the ball this past fall, recording 37 catches as a wideout and pairing up with Traye Simmons as one of the top lockdown cornerback tandems in the South. You did not see too many bites from prominent football powers on Hobbs, despite his renowned track speed and his apparent athleticism... because of his height. At 5'9" and 172 pounds, the senior cornerback is labeled as undersized by many recruiters, but Stanford sees ability that reminds them of T.J. Rushing. Rushing has similar size and speed, as well as a parallel light recruitment. But the Cardinal have enjoyed three banner years of play from the Oklahoman, who played straight out of high school without taking a redshirt year. Hobbs might follow in those shoes.
"Coach [A.J.] Christoff says he likes how athletic I am," the recruit reports. "He says I'm fast and can move my hips. He says good defensive backs are hard to find, and they lose two seniors this year. With how little they have coming back, he thinks I might have a chance to come in and play next year."
We are getting tape soon on Hobbs and look forward to providing you with video clips of the All-Cobb County standout in action.
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