64 - Liam Dobson
Liam Dobson certainly looks the part – the Winnipeg Blue Bombers sturdy new offensive lineman rocks a killer lumberjack beard and has that grain silo body type that suggests he is more carnivore than herbivore.
He also possesses an infectious exuberance and love of the game that should help him make a smooth transition into a Blue Bombers offensive line room that overflows with it.
“I’m very happy,” began Dobson, the Blue Bombers first pick in the 2021 CFL Draft following his first day on the field with the club. “I came in yesterday and got to meet the coaches, the players… get on the film. It was great.
“I love football. I love being around football. The yard off the ball threw me off a bit today when I came out, but it was a great experience learning from some guys in the offensive line room who are phenomenal players and have been phenomenal players for a long time in this league. Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better experience to start off my career.”
A product of Ottawa who began his college career at the University of Maine before transferring to Texas State, Dobson brings depth to a Blue Bombers line that lost Drew Desjarlais to the New England Patriots, but returns four starters in tackles Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick, guard Pat Neufeld, centre Michael Coutue and also has a veteran like Geoff Gray ready for more work.
The Blue Bombers were enamoured with Dobson in selecting him third overall in last year’s draft, and that attitude didn’t lessen as he returned to school, then signed with the USFL, only to have that opportunity get spiked due to visa issues. Dobson was in the Chicago Bears mini camp last week before joining the Bombers on Friday.
“He’s a big dude and he loves playing football, so we’re glad he’s here,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “He had some other opportunities and now he’s here with us. It’s still early in camp and he’ll pick things up quickly, for sure. I think he just loves playing football. He seems like a happy guy, excited to be here and like most of these guys, he just loves playing the game.”
Here’s what will also serve Dobson well – asked to describe himself as a player he said: “I like to think mean, athletic, nasty – a bunch of fun adjectives or descriptive words I could possibly think of. I like to play physical, nasty with being athletic at the same time.”
“We like our guys a certain way in that room, and they hold themselves to a certain standard,” added O’Shea. “I don’t know if the word ‘nasty’ doesn’t come to my mind, but they don’t take a lot of penalties and they play hard, physical football. He’s quite capable of that.”
Dobson’s athleticism earned him a great deal of notoriety long before he put his name onto a contract with the Bombers this week. His Instagram page features a video of him tipping the scales at 344 pounds before throwing down a dunk and he twice earned a spot on Bruce Feldman’s ‘College Football Freaks List’.
View this post on Instagram
He’s got a witty sense of humour and told us last year in an interview he has drawn inspiration from his younger sister Ainsley, who has Williams syndrome – a rare neurodevelopmental genetic disorder that features ‘mild learning or developmental challenges.’
Job #1 for Dobson is to continue to work to fit into the O-line room and get his nose into the playbook.
“Right now I’m just learning,” Dobson said. “I got in last night, got with the older guys to learn as much as I possibly can and just be the best player I possibly can, whether that means play right away, play in a year, play part way through the season… I just want to be the best player I can be as soon as I can be and help the team in whatever role I can.
“I knew quite a bit about the group coming in from watching the team a lot last year and prior to Covid, you see a bunch of guys on that team and in that room that are phenomenal players like Stanley, Yoshi, so I’m coming into a room – and it’s not just those two guys – that are phenomenal players and have been phenomenal players and they’re nice guys, they’re accepting.
“I came in yesterday and we’re already joking around, talking,” he added. “It’s not like other teams where those guys are ‘The’ guys. The entire offensive line room is part of the team. They’re a unit. Everyone’s together. I just learned that last night, but prior to last night I knew they were a great group physically on the field, so I’m excited to be a part of it.”