Canadian Liam Dobson is on the move.
The six-foot-three, 340-pound offensive lineman has decided to transfer to Texas State University following three seasons with the Maine Bears.
Dobson, an Ottawa native, plans to begin the roughly 30-hour drive to San Marcos, Texas, later this week and arrive in time to begin classes there next Tuesday.
"It's exciting but stressful at the same time," Dobson said during a telephone interview Monday. "Everything you've worked for for the past seven, eight years is up in the air and it's exciting to see where it will all go but at the same time there's also the feeling of, 'Oh man. What am I doing?'
"But I'm happy with my decision and I'm excited to get to work."
Dobson entered the NCAA transfer portal last month after the Colonial Athletic Association postponed its fall football schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maine plans to play six CAA games starting in March, but Dobson said a factor in his decision was wanting to play against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) competition to enhance his NFL draft stock.
Dobson, a senior, will get to achieve that goal early as Texas State will open its 2021 season squaring off against Baylor. Last October, Dobson was listed at No. 5 by the CFL scouting bureau on its top-20 prospects list for the 2021 draft.
"If football continues to work out for me, this is going to kind of be the future," he said. "It's exciting to get a little bit of a taste of what my future potentially holds with moving, learning a new system, getting to know new people.
"I've been in this region of the world (Canada, northern U.S.) for so long so it's going to be exciting to go down and experience a new culture, a new way of living as well as new football. I get to learn a new playbook, a new system -- which is also extremely exciting for me and will make me better as a player and be more versatile.
"I'd also by lying if I said the barbecue didn't attract me a bit either."
Dobson said he originally narrowed down his choices to five schools -- Texas State, East Carolina University, Toledo, Old Dominion and Florida International -- before settling upon the Bobcats program.
"I just really liked the atmosphere the coaches created," he said. Obviously there are no official visits at this point but the Texas State staff did a great job of recruiting."
It also didn't hurt that Dobson saw a familiar face there in Sam Obiang, a six-foot-one, 290-pound defensive lineman from Ottawa who just completed his sophomore campaign.
"Yeah, I know, we're going to have to beat up on each other in practice," Dobson said with a chuckle. "It's funny because I used to be a defensive lineman in high school so we were beating up on guys instead of each other.
"I watched Texas State a lot last year with Sam being there and they play good football. They were in a ton of good games last year (five losses were by seven or fewer points). I can't wait to get down there and start working with them and help them win more games."
The Texas State Bobcats posted a 2-10 record this year and were 2-6 within the Sun Belt Conference.
Dobson, a childhood development major, was a 2019 first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and voted Maine's top offensive lineman. He was the school's highest-graded offensive lineman for every game and averaged 12 knockdowns per contest.
Dobson contributed immediately upon arriving at Maine in 2017, appearing in six contests (one start) as a freshman before becoming a full-time starter in 2018. Predictably, Dobson said his transfer is bitter-sweet.
"It is," he said. "I'll be working out with a couple of the guys (Monday) and hope to see a few before I leave as well as have dinner with one of the coaches.
"It sucks but they're supportive. They know I did it for a good reason and not just I want to be out of Maine."
Dobson said the 2018 season will always be a memorable one for him. That year, the Bears won a CAA championship after freshman defensive Darius Minor collapsed and died during a pre-season workout at age 18. He was later found to have had a heart ailment.
"We lost a teammate and it was very tragic," Dobson said. "We just rallied as a team and had one of the best seasons in Maine history and won a conference championship.
"The whole team was together and we were winning games. The whole memory of that year of just working hard for a good cause."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press