FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Aaron Dobson wasn't heavily recruited coming out of high school, but there was enough interest from colleges for both basketball and football that he had to make a difficult choice.
It seems safe to say he made the right one by picking football.
"It was definitely a tough decision," he recalled this week. "But I just thought about it and kept it real with myself. I felt like I had a better chance of playing longer in football. At my size, as a hooper, I'm 6-2 and there are a lot of 6-2 guards, which is the position I played. So I just felt like the best decision was for me to play football and it's worked out."
The Patriots made Dobson a central piece in their youthful, revamped receiving corps by selecting him in the second round of the draft (59th overall).
In 10 games this season (seven starts), Dobson has totaled 35 catches for 492 yards and four touchdowns. He's missed the last three games with a foot injury but appears to be close to a return, likely Sunday against the Ravens. His height and leaping ability make him unique among Patriots receivers and could benefit an offense that is readjusting following the season-ending injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Dobson shares his "football journey":
When he first started playing football: "When I was 6. I was real young. I played for Dunbar, my hometown [in West Virginia]. We had Little League."
What got him started: "I was always active. My older brother played; he's four years older than me. When he first started, I would be out there practicing and I remember having my own little Dallas Cowboys uniform. I'd just be out there running around."
Favorite teams and players growing up: "I wouldn't say I was a big Cowboys fan, but my dad was. That's probably how I had that jersey, but I didn't really have a favorite team."
Favorite players growing up: "Of course I liked [Randy] Moss, because he's from where I'm from. Plus, he's a beast, a great receiver. I watched Moss a lot."
First positions in Little League: "Running back and safety."
Top football memories at South Charleston High School: "My state championship year. My senior year, we won it. It was a great feeling, and I remember, we called it out in eighth grade -- 'Once we're seniors, we're going to win it.' It felt good to do that with the [friends] I grew up with."
High school games that stand out: "I would say that state championship game. We played our rivals, George Washington, and we're probably about 10 minutes away from each other. We whooped them, 39-8, so that was fun."
Why attending Marshall was the right choice: "I have a big family support system, so being close to home had a lot to do with it. And I really didn't have too many other choices. I had offers from Marshall, Delaware and Hofstra. Marshall being the biggest, D-I, I felt like I could play there. It was close to home. I liked the coaches there. I just felt like it was a good fit for me."
Taking a college visit to Northeastern as a basketball recruit: "It was fun. I remember my host, Manny [Adako], he was a big guy who played power forward. We went to a hockey game, which was my first time doing that. It was a good time."
Favorite football memories at Marshall: "Our bowl games -- my freshman year and junior year. The catch I made at home ... My junior year, our team was very close that year and we had a good time at the bowl game, down in Florida."
Entering the NFL draft: "I was excited, very anxious. It was a very long process and I didn't know where I was going to end up. It was fun, but long, very emotional. I took a visit up here after the combine, and they came and worked me out, but I didn't know the Patriots would make the pick. When they did, I was excited. This is a great organization, with great teammates, great vets with how they carry themselves and embrace us. I just feel like I'm in a great place."
What he loves about football: "Meeting all types of different people, from everywhere, and bonding with them and working hard with them, and then getting the reward of going out and competing with them on Sunday."
What he prides himself on as a player: "I compete and am not going to give up, no matter who is lined up across from me. I'm going to give you my best."
What he's learned most through football: "Just dealing with adversity. You go through a lot of it -- the whole game is like life, you have ups, downs, interceptions, dropped passes. You have to learn how to shake it off and move on to the next thing, whatever it is, and embrace it."
Role models in his life: "I would definitely say my parents [Angie and Robert Dobson], by far. They've been there for me through everything. Anything I was doing, they always stood behind me. They spent a lot of money on me to do things, like AAU basketball. I just really thank them and am appreciative of them supporting me the way they have."
Summing up his football journey: "It's been fun. A lot of ups and downs, injuries and things. It's been a great ride and I'm just glad I got to the point I wanted to be, the NFL, which is a dream come true. Hopefully I have a lot of football left."