June 18, 2009
CANTON, Ohio -
Incoming Marshall University freshman wide receiver Aaron Dobson is training along with the rest of the United States of America's first Junior National Football Team in preparation for the IFAF Junior World Championship that is scheduled for June 27-July 5 in Canton, Ohio. The South Charleston native took time out from practice to talk about his experience thus far in this Herdzone exclusive.
Dobson, who will report to Marshall on August 5th, led South Charleston (W.Va.) High School to West Virginia's 2008 Class AAA state championship with a perfect 14-0 record this past season. West Virginia's 2008 Player of the Year in basketball and Player of the Year Runner-Up in football, Dobson caught 45 passes for 1,298 yards (28.8-yard average) and 17 touchdowns as a senior while recording seven interceptions on defense. He also was named the 2008 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year in football.
Q: How do your skills in basketball help you as a receiver?
Dobson: Basketball helps my hand-eye coordination. And rebounding is like getting in position to make a catch, you have to judge it. You just have to judge it and time your jump right.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the whole experience with USA Football -- how has this been? Is it what you expected?
Dobson: It's great! There's a lot of talent on this team -- like a whole lot of talent. This is a great experience.
Q: What about the competition in this camp?
Dobson: The competition is hot. There are some serious defensive backs out here. They're very good or they would not be here. Sometimes they beat us, sometimes we beat them. It's good competition -- it's back and forth. The competition between us gets a little rowdy but it's fun, it's fine.
Q: How do you think playing in this tournament representing the United States is going to help you at Marshall?
Dobson: Most obviously, it's getting me football-ready and it will help me dedicate a lot of time to conditioning so I can be just as ready as the upper classmen. Playing on this team with these coaches, it's raising my game.
Q: What does playing for the United States mean to you?
Dobson: Oh, it's crazy. Not everybody gets to say they play for Team USA. I'm very excited. When we stepped in the locker room on our first day here Saturday and were given all the workout gear and the helmet with our nation's colors and "USA" on it, we had all that stuff it's just amazing and I'm very excited to be here.
USA Football, an independent non-profit and the sport's national governing body on youth and amateur levels, has built America's first Junior National Team in the sport to compete in the eight-nation, four-continent 2009 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio, from June 27-July 5. National football teams from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden have qualified to join the United States to pursue the sport's first world championship on the international junior level (19 and under). All of the games will be played in Fawcett Stadium adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
No. 1-seeded Canada kicks off the historic event against New Zealand at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, followed by a clash between fourth-seeded Japan and reigning European junior champion Germany at 1 p.m. Third-seed Mexico takes on Sweden at 4 p.m. before all eight teams are introduced at an official opening ceremony at 7 p.m. The United States' first junior National Team kicks off against France at 8 p.m. to conclude the action-packed opening day.
USA Football's Junior National Team is led by Chuck Kyle, head coach of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School, who has led his Wildcats to 10 of Ohio's past 21 state titles, including two USA TODAY "national championships."
For more information or to order tickets go online to www.usafootball.com or visit www.jwcfootball.com.
Special Thanks to USA Football and Steve Alic.