- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2011

ANNAPOLIS | Perhaps the most recognizable Navy football player of the past decade was right at home last week, moving quickly around the Midshipmens practice fields.

Only this time, Ricky Dobbs was pushing a container of water around and preparing for a portion of his life that wont involve throwing a football.

As the likes of Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and others prepare to hear their names during the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, Dobbs is anticipating his graduation from Navy. When other college stars venture out to their first training camp - eventually, anyway, considering the lockout - Dobbs will be coaching at the academys prep school.

And as the pros push for playoff spots in December, Dobbs will report to the USS Oscar Austin in Norfolk.

Playing football is over for the former quarterback, a man who less than a year ago was pegged as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate and a possibility to lead the Midshipmen to an unbeaten season. But really, things are only getting started for the charismatic Dobbs.

“The end of the journey is only the beginning of another one,” he observed.

He won’t soon forget the last four years.

Dobbs completed his career as the school leader in touchdowns (49) and fifth in rushing yardage (2,665) but was still involved (like many seniors) during the last month as the Mids began working toward next season. In Friday’s spring game, he made the play call for what became a 44-yard pass to set up the scrimmage’s lone offensive touchdown.

He also spent time working with new starting quarterback Kriss Proctor, who couldn’t help but tease his predecessor.

“It’s great having Ricky here,” Proctor said. “I say when you’re wearing a visor, you know you’re washed up. He’s out here wearing a visor like all the coaches.”

Replied Dobbs, visor atop his head: “I’m not washed up. I’m washed up in Navy terms. But I’ve still got it.”

It’s safe to assume the smarts and the arm are intact. But the one thing unquestionably in place is the smile college football fans - and not just Navy supporters - found so appealing.

He has reason to be happy. In the coming weeks, he’ll become the first male from either side of his family to graduate from college. His dreams of coaching and becoming youth minister - as well as the famously stated ambition to become president- all remain possible. Success, in some form or another, seems as likely as it did when Dobbs drew the attention of national outlets entering his final season.

“I’m not worried about that,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “It’s not if he’s successful, it’s when and where and what he wants to do.”

In some ways, his fishbowl lifestyle - as the quarterback of a successful service academy team - is gone. Dobbs acknowledged he was treated differently during his career, but not because things were handed to him as some might believe. Instead, all eyes were constantly on him.

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