Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mount Airy’s Dobson battling for touches at ECU

Former Mount Airy standout Michael Dobson was East Carolina University’s leading rusher in the spring game back in April, but the redshirt sophomore may face an uphill climb in winning the starting running back job when preseason camp begins in a few weeks.


Dobson rushed 16 times for 80 yards against the Pirates’ defensive unit, far more carries and clicks than any other player that day. He drew high praise from ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

“He is very solid, you know just a work-hard-at-it, go-to-war type guy who is going to be there every day,” Riley told Bonesville.net, an independent Web site that covers East Carolina football, in mid-June. “He doesn’t miss assignments… he’s getting better and better at carrying the ball every day… he’s going to be an efficient runner and efficient football player… he catches the ball well and does things well. He had a really good spring, particularly at the end there where we saw him do some really good things.”

But Dobson will be in a battle for touches with a JUCO transfer (Reggie Bullock from Arizona Western Community College) and a receiver-turned-running back (fellow sophomore Torrance Hunt).

Riley listed Hunt as his unofficial projected starter at running back in his mid-June interview with Bonesville. Hunt carried twice in the spring game for 23 yards and has great speed and toughness, Riley said.

Michael Dobson, a former Mount Airy High standout, rushed for 80 yards on 16 carries in ECU's spring game back in April. Photo courtesy ECUPirates.com/Rob Goldberg Jr.

But Bullock could be the player that, as Bonesville.net put it, turns the running back competition on its head.

Bullock, originally from Las Vegas, was named the National JUCO offensive player of the year for 2010 after rushing for 1,830 yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 152.5 yards per game in 2010 for Arizona Western and compiled a two-year junior college rushing tally of 3,247 yards and 43 TDs.

“You don’t sign a junior college kid unless he can help you right away,“ Riley told Bonesville.net. “So, the fact that we did sign him speaks to what we think about him, so we think he can jump right into the competition.”

After helping Mount Airy to a state championship in 2008, Dobson headed off to East Carolina and redshirted the 2009 season.

Last fall, Dobson played in all 13 games on special teams, including the bowl game against Maryland. He saw his first action at running back against the Memphis Tigers on Sept. 11. His first carry was a 12-yard burst on third down.

Dobson finished with 11 carries total for 62 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per tote, during the 2010 campaign. He caught one pass for four yards and returned eight kicks for an average of 13.1 yards per return, with a long of 29 yards.

ECU’s spring media guided said this of Dobson: “Enjoyed an impressive and noteworthy spring and fall in new offensive scheme, gaining the attention of offensive coaching staff … Displays plenty of athleticism, quickness and pass-catching ability out of the backfield.”

While the Pirates will look to throw quite a bit, the running game will be an important factor this season in Ruffin McNeill’s second year at the helm.

Dobson and the Pirates will be close by the Yadkin Valley when the season opens Sept. 3. East Carolina will face South Carolina in Charlotte. Kickoff time is still TBA. The Pirates then host Virginia Tech on Sept. 10.

Photo courtesy: ECUPirates.com/Rob Goldberg Jr. For the complete ECU Spring Game photo gallery, click HERE.

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