Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Hernando High

Where Are They Now?

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Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:29 PM

Editor's note: This is the seventh story in a series highlighting Hernando High's 2012 Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

Dwayne Mobley won't get to soak in tonight's festivities. He's not even sure he'll make an appearance at the halftime ceremony.

He'll be understandably preoccupied, likely firing up his team and making whatever adjustments are necessary in the midst of a pivotal district contest.

Eight new inductees into the Hernando High Sports Hall of Fame will be honored in front of the crowd at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium.

That'll take place during intermission of a Class 6A, District 6 battle between the Leopards and Sunlake with serious playoff implications.

Mobley is among this year's Hall of Fame class, in the third year since Hernando started recognizing its former standout athletes and coaches.

He is being lauded for his efforts as a Leopard running back, part of a playing career that included a national championship at the University of Florida and a stint in Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp.

"It's a great honor and a pleasure being inducted into the high school Hall of Fame," Mobley said. "Especially being one of the early inductees makes you feel good.

"It makes you realize how much people appreciate what you did while you were here."

Except that Mobley hasn't exactly left. Among the inductees, he's the only one still active within Hernando athletics.

Make that very active. The 39-year-old, who graduated from the school in 1992, is in his first season as the Leopards' head coach.

As a result, he won't have a whole lot of time to enjoy the Hall of Fame experience.

"I won't take it all in until later," Mobley said. "It's difficult when you're coaching. I can't sit there and think about all that Hall of Fame stuff. I'm going to be concentrating on the football game.

"But I wouldn't trade coaching for nothing. And I wouldn't trade being in the Hernando Hall of Fame for anything, either."

Mobley started off as a baseball player. He grew up on the diamond, his parents heavily involved in the Kennedy Park Little League.

"Football was just something else to do until baseball season," Mobley said.

Because of his weight, in football Mobley constantly had to play above his proper age group.

He played baseball through his freshman year at Hernando, but unhappy with his playing time on the JV squad, he decided to switch to track and field.

Meanwhile he was advancing up the ladder on the gridiron. He moved up to varsity his sophomore year, though he rarely ran the ball, making more of an impact at linebacker.

Over his final two years, though, he was a starter on both sides of the ball.

He rushed for 4,041 yards in his prep career, while scoring a county-record 58 touchdowns and totaling 362 points.

As a senior, he surpassed 2,000 yards and tallied 36 scores on the ground.

"My (offensive) line was the best line ever," Mobley said, "and I thought my line was the biggest line in Florida until I went up to play in the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game. When I got behind that line, I said 'Oh my goodness, these guys are huge.'

"Everything I did I have to give it to my line. Those guys were really go-getters. It's funny, because I got all the accolades. But I couldn't do any of it without my line."

By his senior year he had garnered Parade All-American honors and a slew of scholarship offers from Division I institutions.

"I did pretty much everything I wanted to do," Mobley said. "We were different back then. We didn't have all the options these kids have. Either you played a sport or you got a job.

"We didn't have very many video games back then. We used to wake up on Saturday and be outside from the time the sun came up until the sun would go down."

The one opportunity he never received was a chance at postseason play. That was before the FHSAA expanded its playoff format to include district runners-up.

Unfortunately for Hernando, it was in a district that featured Pasco at a time when the Pirates were a true powerhouse, winning a state title the season after Mobley graduated.

However, he would find greater team success at the next level.

Mobley took his first recruiting visit to the University of Michigan. He had offers from Florida State and Miami.

Texas A&M called at the last minute with an offer, though Mobley never visited.

He went through a hot-and-cold courtship with Clemson. The school rescinded its initial offer, believing it had a commitment from two other running backs.

A week later, when those same players had gone elsewhere, Mobley said he rebuffed a new overture from the Tigers.

"My mom had been supporting me and going to games since I was a little kid," Mobley said. "I wanted to go somewhere where it wasn't going to be hard for her to go."

He felt FSU lied to him when he found the Seminoles had more fullbacks in the fold than they claimed, meaning he'd face heavy competition for playing time.

As for Miami, he felt he'd "have too much fun down there" and thus shied away from the temptations of South Beach.

That left the University of Florida, where he would spend the next five years thanks to a redshirt freshman season.

This was during the heyday of Steve Spurrier's "Fun 'n' Gun" offense, and as a fullback Mobley didn't play a starring role.

His senior season, starting in the backfield with Fred Taylor, the then 5-foot-10, 231-pound Mobley carried the ball twice for 17 yards, and caught four passes for 51 yards.

Nevertheless, that year he contributed to Florida winning the 1996 national championship, the first in school history.

It was icing on the cake, he added, to do it against FSU in the Sugar Bowl.

"I couldn't ask for anything greater," Mobley said. "Well, I could ask to run the ball a little more, but I couldn't ask for anything else.

"It was a good group in my class. We enjoyed each other, had fun. We went out and played hard. We set our sights on winning a national championship our senior year and we did."

During his time with the Gators, he picked up on some of the finer points of coaching by watching Spurrier.

"I learned a lot playing under Coach Spurrier," Mobley said. "He's an offensive-minded guy and that was a good thing because I was on offense. His passing-game stuff was amazing.

"A little bit of his coaching and my high school coach, Coach (Mike) Imhoff, my coaching style is formulated around those guys."

After he graduated from Florida in 1997, the Bucs brought Mobley into training camp as an undrafted rookie.

"I was down there for a month with the Bucs playing and it was a good experience. It was an eye-opener," said Mobley, who survived to the last cuts before the regular season.

"There's a lot of politics going on in the NFL. I ended up getting cut and the only two fullbacks on the team were me and Mike Alstott. They ended up taking a tight end and made him a fullback.

"I didn't want to play no more. I could have played in the Canadian league. I could have played arena football. But it wasn't in my heart, so I didn't."

He returned to Brooksville, and found himself playing armchair quarterback watching Hernando games in the stands.

"Then I realized I didn't do no good if I wasn't down there with all my knowledge I know, trying to help these kids out," Mobley said.

During the 1998 season, he was an assistant coach with the Leopards under Bill Browning, coincidentally the current Sunlake headman.

From 1999-2011, he was the head coach at Parrott Middle School, also teaching math there outside of one year at the STAR Education Center.

This past spring he came over to Hernando as an assistant to John Palmer, then replaced him at the end of the school year when Palmer stepped down for health reasons.

Though his degree from Florida is in human resources, he teaches algebra at the high school.

"I wanted to be an accountant at first, but when I realized that wasn't going to happen, teacher was the next thing," Mobley said. "I wanted to give back to the community."

That factors into his desire to coach, as well. Though he built a dominant middle school program at Parrott, his first year with Hernando has been up and down.

It began with a rare win over Pasco in the preseason, followed by three non-district losses. The Leopards, the defending 6A-6 champs, are now 3-3 and 3-0 in the district.

"It's different. There are more responsibilities and more things going on," Mobley said. "I kind of knew, but I didn't know all the stuff that actually happens and all the stuff the head coach is responsible for.

"It was an eye-opener, but now that I've got my feet wet I'm moving on and things are starting to flow."

The rocky start was well worth the reward. Mobley is comfortable in these familiar surroundings, and ready to author the next chapter of his Hernando legacy.

"I had offers to go to a lot of places, but I just couldn't see myself, at least around here, coaching and it not being for the Leopards," Mobley said.

"I plan on being up in the high school for a very long time. Until I get tired of coaching, which I don't see happening any time soon."


cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com (352) 544-5288

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