TUCSON, Ariz. — The last we saw of Arizona linebacker Hank Hobson — in a playing capacity, that is — was that Nov. 3 night when he was being carted off and out of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., wondering if he’d be well enough to return and play again at some point for the Wildcats.
He didn’t return after Arizona’s 66-10 disappointing loss to UCLA, having suffered a head and neck injury that affected his right side. He was treated and released from a hospital in Los Angeles before returning to Arizona to become a sideline observer for the team’s final four games. His season was done.
But he returns this season in what he calls “the best shape of his life” to help add depth to what should be a pretty good group of linebackers, led by senior Jake Fischer. Hobson is down to 235 pounds and is ready for camp to start in about three weeks. He was at 240 pounds in the spring and said he felt heavy, but now, “I’m at a good weight and ready to go,” said the 6-foot-3 Hobson.
In the meantime, the son of former major leaguer Butch Hobson is watching some baseball this summer and getting ready for what he hopes will be a bounceback junior year after a sophomore season that was plagued by injuries and illness.
FOXsportsArizona.com sat down with Hobson to get his feel for the upcoming season.
FSAZ: You weren’t able to play the final four games of the season because of the injury, so you must be champing at the bit to get going, right?
Hobson: Yes, sir, (smiling) I am a little bit.
FSAZ: I saw that when you were at the hospital and the doctor asked how you felt and how long you were out, it seemed a bit funny.
Hobson: The doctor asked me, ‘How long was it numb?'” Hobson said. “I said it was like two hours (or so) and he said, ‘That’s not that long.’ And I’m saying, ‘For you, maybe, but it freaked me out.’
FSAZ: Did it really freak you out? How worried were you?
Hobson: I was more pissed off than anything. It stung more than anything. It started to bother me, but probably more so how the game ended. It freaks you out for a while, but once you come around, you start feeling better.
FSAZ: Sometimes when a player comes back from an injury, there’s a time when he/she might be cautious. How are you going in?
Hobson: I’m going straight into it. I’m 100 percent injury-wise. You can’t be afraid or timid. That’s what causes more injuries. You can’t go in with a bad mindset. You can’t be timid.
FSAZ: It’s a new year and you say you’re 100 percent ready to go, but where do you see yourself fitting into the linebacker group, where there is Fischer, Marquis Flowers, Sir Thomas Jackson and Dakota Cronwell, among others?
Hobson: I’m hoping I can help. We have Fish (Fischer), who is a great leader, so we’ll stand by him and try to make plays. We’ve got to step it up on defense, and I’ll do the best I can. It’s my job. We have a bunch of new guys coming in, so the depth is good.
FSAZ: It’s midsummer and you have baseball in your background. Are you watching baseball these days?
Hobson: I try to watch as much as I can, but I don’t have cable at my house. I recently haven’t been good on it, especially because of the cable. Whenever I’m in the new facility (at Arizona Stadium), I try to catch up on it.
FSAZ: Baseball wasn’t in your future?
Hobson: I had played my whole life. I asked myself, did I want to go on and play? And I said, ‘No.’ My dad also loves football. He was a player at Alabama playing for Bear Bryant. He loves football as much as he loves baseball. At one point after my junior year, I just realized, ‘I’m done and wanted to focus on football.’
FSAZ: With Trey Griffey on the team, do you guys talk baseball at all?
Hobson: No (smiling). I’m not sure he knows if my dad played . My dad is an old guy, so I’m sure he knows Griffey Sr. I’m not sure, but he might know Griffey Sr.