HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-at-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
There are times in life when difficult decisions must be made, hoping it will be another step in the right direction. Towering Ottawa football player Liam Dobson recently experienced that moment.
For three seasons (2017-19) at the University of Maine, the 6’3″, 340-lb. offensive lineman was an imposing and impressive figure in the Black Bears’ trenches. And the hype surrounding his 2020 senior season was building significantly.
The child development and family relations student loved the program, his teammates and the small school vibe. After many football scholarship offers fell apart in his 2016-17 season at Canada Prep Academy, Maine took a chance on him.
Thinking his NCAA football dream was disappearing and his next step might be Canadian university football, Maine coach Pat Denecke visited Dobson and offered him a scholarship. The cast on Dobson’s hand didn’t deter Denecke.
But heading into his senior season, which would be instrumental ahead of the NFL and CFL drafts, the Colonial Athletic Association and the University of Maine postponed the 2020 fall football season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Black Bears will play a six-game, winter-spring schedule in 2021 from March 6 to April 17, and there was talk Dobson would be around for his farewell season. But during the non-football fall, he made a difficult decision.
Dobson submitted his notification of transfer to the NCAA Transfer Portal. At least nine schools showed interest in Dobson, who committed to Texas State University to play his final season with the Bobcats.
“I have spoken with my mentors and have determined this is what is best for me,” Dobson wrote in a letter to his Maine teammates. “To my teammates, ball out and show everyone what Maine is all about.”
In his letter, Dobson thanked all football and support staff at Maine.
“This is an amazing program and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity they gave me and everything they have done for me in my time here.”
By attending Texas State, which played football in the fall and posted a 2-10 record, Dobson is hoping the opportunity to compete on a larger stage will improve his value heading into the NFL and CFL drafts.
In the first of three top-20 prospect rankings in October by the CFL Scouting Bureau, Dobson was listed No. 5 and was the highest-rated player from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Entering his senior year, Dobson was named to the 2020 Stats Perform FCS Preseason All-America second team, the HERO Sports Preseason All-American third team, and the Phil Steele’s 2020 Preseason All-CAA first team.
Dobson is extremely athletic. In 2019, he extended his consecutive-game playing streak to 26, was a CAA first-team all-star, Maine’s highest graded lineman and a Phil Steele FSC All-Conference first-team all-star.
Dobson played two years of football at St. Mark Catholic High School and his final two years in St. Catharines with Canada Prep Academy, which only played against American high school teams.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.