BELLEVILLE, Mich. — Look up the word “potential” in a dictionary and you might see a picture of Belleville (Mich.) 2019 offensive lineman Devontae Dobbs.
Ok, you probably won’t see his picture, but Dobbs is oozing with potential. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound tackle is one of the country’s premier prospects at offensive tackle in the Class of 2019. He’s long, exceptionally athletic, and he plays football with brute strength and excellent technique. This is a rare find, especially when you consider that Dobbs is only 16 years old.
Check out this scouting report on Dobbs from Todd Huber, director of football operations for Nike’s The Opening:
“He has excellent feet and great body control,” Huber told Land of 10. “He gives great effort and understands leverage and body position. He can get overextended at times, but he’s nasty and loves to finish blocks. He’s going to be special. Out of the dudes I’ve spent a lot of time with, I think he’s a lot like [Clemson junior-to-be] Mitch Hyatt at this stage. His body type and style of play is similar.”
Hyatt is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft next April if he leaves Clemson after the 2017 season. Yes, the comparisons and evaluations of Dobbs — who has 30 scholarship offers — are full of high expectations.
But Dobbs isn’t resting on his laurels. In the last month he’s been to mega-combines in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and he’ll return to Ohio — to Columbus — this Sunday for the Rivals.com 5-star Challenge. Competing in those settings has shown Dobbs what it takes to be the best.
“One big thing that I’ve realized is that the people I’m competing against now, I’m probably going to be competing with in college,” Dobbs told Land of 10 on Wednesday morning following a 6 a.m. workout in his high school gym. “I’m learning to be more durable for this long camp season, making sure I stay healthy and work out, make sure I’m keeping up with my technique.”
His technique is pretty good. His high school coach, Jermaine Crowell, who helped get dozens of players into college during his time as an assistant at Detroit Cass Tech, told Land of 10 that Dobbs has the “best feet” of any offensive lineman he’s coached.
It’s not a surprise that Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and two dozen other schools have offered him. It’s also not a surprise that Dobbs is considering a number of things that are important to him, and that as of today he says there is no leader in his recruitment.
“All schools are neutral right now. I still want to continue to build relationships,” he said. “I’m thinking about distance, I’m thinking about feeling at home, stuff like that. If I do move far down south, or even if I stay up north, it’s about making sure my family can adjust.”
Auburn is one school that’s being closely tied to Dobbs, and the idea of moving “far down south” isn’t lip service. While Michigan leads his 247Sports “crystal ball,” he’s thinking about his future and knows he may have to make a decision that won’t be popular at home.
As one source shared with Land of 10 following Ohio State’s spring game on April 15 — which Dobbs attended despite Michigan’s spring scrimmage being held the same day — “Michigan isn’t giving (Dobbs and 4-star ATH Julian Barnett) any love.”
That’s not entirely the case with Dobbs. The Wolverines are working to convince their state’s top offensive lineman to stay home.
“They’re just like, ‘It’s at home, it’s Michigan,’ ” Dobbs said of his communication with Jim Harbaugh and his staff. “I’m pretty sure people would dislike me if I was to leave, but I’ve got to do what’s best for me. They’re not the ones doing the four-to-five years, or three years, however it may be. I’m the one doing it. I can’t go based off what somebody else is saying. I just have got to feel at home.”
Michigan State has approached him from a different angle.
“I talk to [offensive line coach Mark] Staten and I’ve been up there a couple of times. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been to Michigan State,” Dobbs said. “We’ve got a pretty good relationship; we sit down and talk about football, talk about family. Just to get close to each other.”
Then there’s Ohio State, the only other school that has a “crystal ball” pick other than Michigan. Ohio State’s Kerry Coombs continues to pound the pavement in Michigan and his presence doesn’t go unnoticed. For Dobbs, that relationship goes back to the 2015 Sound Mind/Sound Body recruiting camp, held near Detroit.
“When I first met [Coombs] at Sound Mind/Sound Body, he was real enthusiastic. From right then and there, I liked him. His reputation up here is one of trust. He gets guys from up here in Michigan and other parts of the country.”
As mentioned, Dobbs was in Columbus last month and he’ll return this weekend, though it’s not certain if he’ll make a stop at Ohio State. The spring game helped underscore why Ohio State is so high on his list.
“The intensity — the intensity with the coaches and the players. I’ve never seen that before,” he said of the packed house for a spring practice before turning the conversation to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
“I’ve talked to Urban Meyer before. He’s told me that I have a scholarship from Ohio State and a home there. Mostly, [what keeps Ohio State on his mind] is that they show high interest. I love who loves me. They want to get me up for some more visits.”