Back in 1985, Gatorade established an award honoring the nation's top high school student-athletes. Since then, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has recognized more than 12,500 state and national winners in 12 sports.
Gatorade Player of the Year alumni include household names like Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach — a distinguished group, indeed.
This week, we're catching up with Aaron Dobson.
Aaron Dobson probably doesn’t want to trace every footstep Randy Moss has ever taken. The ones that he’s followed so far, though, have put him in a pretty good place.
Dobson, a second-round pick in the recent NFL Draft (59th overall), has begun offseason workouts with the New England Patriots, hoping to earn a starting wide receiver job catching passes from Tom Brady.
Moss had the best season of his career on the receiving end of Brady throws in 2007, catching 98 for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns as the Patriots posted a perfect regular season.
Like Moss, the 6-foot-3 Dobson was a plus-sized wideout at Marshall University – hauling in 165 passes for 2,398 yards and 24 scores in his career, including 57 catches for 679 yards and three TDs as a senior. He was targeted 92 times in 2012 and didn’t have a single drop.
Like Moss, Dobson was also a high school star in West Virginia and won the Gatorade West Virginia Boys Basketball Player of the Year award in 2009.
To be fair, Moss also won two Gatorade awards in football to go with the one he earned in basketball for DuPont (Belle, W.Va.) High in 1995, the year after his former point guard — 1994 winner Jason “White Chocolate” Williams — moved on to college.
Dobson was certainly a football star, too. He caught 45 passes for 1,298 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, helping South Charleston (W.Va.) High to an undefeated season and a 39-8 win over George Washington (Charleston, W.Va.) High in the state title game. He caught a TD pass and returned an interception for another touchdown in the state final, but his teammate — running back/linebacker Aaron Slusher — earned Gatorade West Virginia Football Player of the Year.
On the basketball court, Dobson averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. The Black Eagles (26-2) won 25 straight, but lost a heartbreaker in the 2009 state final to Martinsburg (W.Va.) High, 53-52. Dobson (12 points) hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left. He fouled out with five seconds left, however, and Martinsburg’s Isaac Thornton made the game-winning free throws.
Dobson entertained interest from Division I schools for basketball, including Northeastern and Evansville, but eventually he decided on football at Marshall. If he can recreate even a tiny portion of Moss’ career numbers (982 receptions, 15,292 yards, 156 TDs), that decision will have been a dazzling success.