As spring football approaches, there are a number of Utes that have been waiting in the wings for an opportunity to make the leap to the next level and become major contributors to the team. Spring football presents this opportunity - to make an impression, to work up the depth chart and earn a spot. UteZone takes a closer look at the players who have the most to gain with a strong spring camp.
Today, we focus on senior cornerback Boobie Hobbs. Hobbs has always had a flair for the dramatic during his time at Utah. Mostly known for his work on special teams, Hobbs’ most iconic play as a Ute was his 69 yard punt return for a touchdown on a trick play against Oregon in 2015. Hobbs came to Utah as a confident corner, and it’s on defense where he has the best opportunity to make a larger impact on the team.
What He’s Done so Far
Hobbs was an immediate contributor during his freshman season in 2014, and has played in 37 games over the past three years. During that time, Hobbs has primarily played on special teams and as a backup to Justin Thomas at nickel back. Although he’s been a regular contributor as a backup at nickel, Hobbs has only recorded 14 career tackles and one pass breakup in his time on defense.
On special teams, Hobbs was Utah’s primary punt returner last season, and has two total returns for a touchdown, one against Oregon and the other against Colorado last season. Hobbs led the NCAA in number of returns last season with 35, but only averaged 7.8 yards per return.
Why This Spring Matters
This spring will be all about whether Hobbs can establish himself as a leader on the Utah defense. With the departure of four year starter Justin Thomas, nickel back is wide open this spring. Hobbs has the most experience at the position, but will face a challenge from sophomore Terrell Burgess during the spring. Additionally, four star corner Javelin Guidry is arriving this summer and will be expected to compete for the starting position in fall camp.
Hobbs has an opportunity to establish himself as the clear leader for the starting spot this spring. He’s always had the athleticism to be a successful nickel in the Pac-12, but Thomas was hard to unseat for reps. Given his experience, Hobbs is the favorite right now to win the job, but the competition from Burgess and Guidry will be intense - and both are capable contenders in their own right. With a secondary that lost so much senior leadership from last season, Hobbs will be an elder statesman on the team and has the opportunity to establish himself not only as a starter, but a strong leader on the defense. But it will all hinge upon his ability to make plays and lead by example in spring and fall camps.
On special teams, Hobbs will be expected to be a contributor once again. Although he’ll face contenders for the starting punt returner job, he’s considered the favorite to win that job again in 2017.
A speedy wide receiver who is looking for a new shot at becoming the playmaker many expected him to be.