LOS ANGELES — Joshua Dobbs stepped up to the podium to introduce himself on Saturday night at the 22nd Annual Watkins Award held at the Millennium Biltmore hotel. The introduction immediately turned to captivation.
Dobbs, from Alpharetta High School in Georgia, discussed his plans of majoring in aeronautical engineering and understanding his place as a role model. He spoke of his excitement for joining the Watkins family and his desires to keep hold of the traditions being a Watkins honoree and even growing the foundation to even higher levels than it finds itself in today.
There were a lot of “wow’s” whispered throughout the building as a singular thought appeared to hit the crowd simultaneously: he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the nation too?
Dobbs is not only an exceptional student with a 4.0 GPA but he’s a top-15 quarterback in the class of 2013, and can deliver a fine speech.
By the end of the night, Dobbs was called to the podium again. This time, he was saying his “thank you’s” as the recipient of the 2013 Watkins Award.
“It feels great,” Dobbs said. “I’m very honored to have this honor.”
Initiated in 1992, the Watkins Award promotes academic excellence among African American males. Watkins Men are among the top high school football players in their class, equally as talented in the classroom, and have a history of given back to their respective communities.
Joining Dobbs in the Watkins Class of 2013 is wide receiver Jordan Cunningham from Florida. Cunningham has signed with Vanderbilt. Quarterback Kendall Beckwith from Louisiana, who will stay close to home and play for Les Miles at LSU. Also, with the highest GPA in the bunch after graduating from Florida Armwood High School with a 5.1, USC early enrollee, safety Leon McQuay III.
The committee members of the National Alliance of African American Athletes conduct a nationwide search to select those that are eligible to apply.
It is a very detailed application process which includes submitting numerous essays and letters of recommendation.
The finalists selected –four this year –are forever linked to that particular year’s class.
They receive a plaque acknowledging their accomplishments as well as a ring and come to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony, where many Watkins Alumni return for the festivities.
Alumni at this year’s event include Justin Blalock of the Atlanta Falcons, who received the Watkins Man of the Year Award for his numerous philanthropic efforts. Also on hand was Lorenzo Alexander of the Washington Redskins, who served as the keynote speaker and USC redshirt freshman Zach Banner, who was a member of last year’s class.
“It’s eye opening,” McQuay III said. “I didn’t realize how many people supported us and what we do.
“It’s giving the kids and everybody else something to look up to and set an example.” Said Dobbs: “When you get out here in California, that’s when it all hits you when you meet all of the alumni and all the people that have been a part of it since the beginning.” Dobbs was the subject of national conversations earlier this month when he signed with Tennessee after being an Arizona State commit.
Dobbs, who will also play baseball at Tennessee, will get to Knoxville this summer and immediately insert himself into a quarterback competition after Tyler Bray decided to leave early for the NFL Draft.
“Ever since I signed my Letter of Intent I’ve been itching to get on campus,” Dobbs said. “I know I just got to put myself in the position to compete and just give it my best.”
He’s already proven his best is profoundly exceptional.