Eden Prairie's Mobley gets chance to play vs. Gophers in sixth college season

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2013 - 11:47 PM

The defensive end rejected the U as a high school senior at Eden Prairie and now, at 24, plays for New Mexico State.

hide

New Mexico State defensive end Willie Mobley, a former Eden Prairie standout, tried to work his way around offensive tackle Davonte Wallace during a recent Aggie football practice.

Photo: Shari V. Hill • Sun-News,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Six years ago, Willie Mobley broke the Gophers’ hearts. A coveted defensive lineman from Eden Prairie, he was the equivalent of The Bachelor, with his pick of 29 swooning universities.

It came down to Ohio State and Minnesota, and Mobley gave the final rose to the Buckeyes. But that relationship soon fizzled. Since then, Mobley has been on the rebound, working his way through a series of increasingly less attractive schools.

Mobley tried UCLA, then Arizona and has since moved to New Mexico State. At age 24, after two major injury setbacks, he’s still playing college football. In fact, he’ll face the Gophers on Saturday night in Las Cruces, N.M.

“It’s crazy how it all works,” Mobley said.

Mobley didn’t lose a game as a junior and senior at Eden Prairie, and then-Gophers coach Tim Brewster worked tirelessly, trying to land him, along with two other standouts from that class.

Michael Floyd, a wide receiver from Cretin-Derham Hall, chose Notre Dame and is now entering his second season in the NFL. Sam Maresh, a linebacker from Champlin Park, picked the Gophers but endured numerous setbacks on and off the field.

Mobley arrived at Ohio State full of promise, but he’d suffered a shoulder injury at Eden Prairie and during his first Buckeyes practice, that injury became significantly worse. He took a redshirt year, then worked to transfer to UCLA.

“I was going through a family situation, so I decided to move closer to where my mother was going to be, in California,” Mobley said. “I was still recovering from my injury and wasn’t in great football shape, and UCLA kind of held me off until it was too late.

“You’re on campus, you’re going to start workouts, and that’s when [Rick] Neuheisel was the coach. My family believed in everything they were saying, and the last couple days, [UCLA officials] were like, ‘We can’t get the credits right [to complete the transfer].’”

This news came more than a week into fall semester. Always a good student, Mobley suddenly had nowhere to take class. The football coach at Orange Coast College stepped in and got him into that school for one year, even though Mobley never played for the team.

This helped smooth Mobley’s transfer to Arizona, where Mobley played sparingly in 2010, making seven tackles. He was penciled in as Arizona’s starting nose tackle for 2011, but that May, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees while playing pickup basketball.

“I couldn’t understand why I was going through all those things,” Mobley said.

Mobley returned to the field last season and made 20 tackles as a backup nose tackle under new Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. With his eligibility expired, Mobley petitioned for a sixth year, and the NCAA gave it to him, declaring his freshman year at Ohio State a medical redshirt because of the shoulder injury.

He landed at New Mexico State, which finished 1-11 last year. What Mobley wanted most was playing time. Transfers normally have to sit out for one season, but the NCAA allows exceptions for players seeking graduate degrees.

Mobley got his undergrad degree from Arizona and is now pursuing a master’s in criminal justice. He started New Mexico State’s 56-7 loss at Texas last Saturday and made three tackles.

“He plays with a lot of passion, and he’s been a good role model for our younger players,” Aggies coach Doug Martin said. “He’s one of our more explosive players, so I’d look for Willie to get better and better.”

Mobley said his goals haven’t changed. He still wants to play in the NFL.

“I love the game so much, and that’s why I came back for another year because I honestly don’t have a lot of football experience,” Mobley said. “This is really my second full training camp, where I’ve been healthy. Getting a sixth year, it’s crazy. It’s been a journey.”

Maybe if Brewster and the Gophers hadn’t finished 1-11 in 2007, during Mobley’s senior year at Eden Prairie, he would have been more tempted to stay home. Maybe then things would have worked out differently.

“We’ll never know, I guess,” Mobley said. “I love Minnesota. It’s home, it always will be home, and I’ve always had a thought of playing for the Gophers.

“But like I said, from the learning experiences I’ve had, and the people I’ve met, I’d do it all over again.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Golden State 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Vancouver 0 1st Prd 7:45
Buffalo 0
Arizona 1 1st Prd 7:33
NY Rangers 1
Montreal 2 1st Prd 9:01
Columbus 1
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Chicago 6:30 PM
Florida
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Nashville
Ottawa 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Detroit 9:30 PM
San Jose
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 54 2nd Half 8:46
Citadel 59
Winthrop 16 1st Half 7:04
Campbell 18
Delaware 24 1st Half 7:45
Drexel 15
Jacksonville St 16 1st Half 7:47
Eastern Ky 20
Northeastern 14 1st Half 6:38
Elon 21
Sacred Heart 28 1st Half 6:20
Fair-Dickinson 30
Western Carolina 17 1st Half 7:30
Furman 12
Char Southern 20 1st Half 8:43
Gardner-Webb 26
Western Ill 16 1st Half 10:30
IUPUI 16
Nebraska Omaha 11 1st Half 11:48
IUPU-Ft Wayne 13
Radford 8 1st Half 9:34
Liberty 20
St Francis-NY 12 1st Half 9:33
Long Island 20
Wofford 23 1st Half 5:09
Mercer 18
Minnesota 19 1st Half 10:38
Michigan State 23
High Point 24 1st Half 7:58
UNC-Asheville 26
Samford 18 1st Half 10:08
UNC Greensboro 18
Nebraska 15 1st Half 6:22
Ohio State 27
Wagner 15 1st Half 8:18
Robert Morris 28
Mount St Marys 7 1st Half 10:30
St Francis-PA 16
Houston 28 1st Half 6:58
Temple 26
Vanderbilt 16 1st Half 7:47
Tennessee 17
Chattanooga 23 1st Half 8:00
Va Military 24
Milwaukee 22 1st Half 8:05
Wright State 20
Coastal Carolina 15 1st Half 9:30
Presbyterian 14
Central Conn St 21 1st Half 8:30
Bryant 13
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SIU Edwardsville 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
FIU 7:00 PM
Marshall
Rider 7:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Ill 7:00 PM
Murray State
Charlotte 7:00 PM
North Texas
North Dakota St 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Rice
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
Fla Atlantic 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Grand Canyon 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Utah Valley U 7:05 PM
UMKC
ULM 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Texas-Arlington 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 7:30 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Troy 7:30 PM
Texas State
Arizona 8:00 PM
Colorado
SMU 8:00 PM
Memphis
Tenn Tech 8:00 PM
Morehead State
Rutgers 8:00 PM
Purdue
Southern Utah 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Montana State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Montana 9:00 PM
Idaho
BYU 9:00 PM
Portland
Pacific 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
Arizona State 9:30 PM
Utah
San Diego 10:00 PM
Gonzaga
St Marys-CA 10:00 PM
San Francisco
Oregon State 10:00 PM
Stanford
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Marshall 68 2nd Half 2:32
FIU 45
TX-Arlington 44 2nd Half 9:51
Arkansas State 49
ULM 30 2nd Half 12:05
South Alabama 27
Georgia State 31 2nd Half
Ark-Little Rock 33
Troy 36 2nd Half
Texas State 33
LSU 11 1st Half 8:34
Ole Miss 17
(11) Miss State 10 1st Half 11:14
(2) South Carolina 15
North Texas 15 1st Half 11:20
Charlotte 19
Western Ky 23 1st Half 9:03
Florida Atlantic 14
William & Mary 33 1st Half 5:26
Coll of Charleston 26
Delaware 20 1st Half 7:41
UNC-Wilmington 12
UMBC 8 1st Half 10:48
Maine 17
UMass Lowell 12 1st Half 9:56
Vermont 13
Albany 16 1st Half 7:40
Hartford 12
Stony Brook 12 1st Half 9:05
Binghamton 15
Boston College 6 1st Half 12:00
(8) Louisville 14
(23) Syracuse 17 1st Half 10:20
Clemson 13
(16) Duke 8 1st Half 10:16
Georgia Tech 21
Florida 14 1st Half 9:52
Alabama 8
NC State 15 1st Half 9:08
(9) Florida State 21
Miami-Florida 26 1st Half 5:03
Wake Forest 29
Fairfield 23 1st Half 7:23
Iona 14
Marist 16 1st Half 8:17
Saint Peters 17
Quinnipiac 19 1st Half 11:40
Rider 5
Virginia 18 1st Half 10:55
(15) North Carolina 8
Pittsburgh 19 1st Half 9:02
(4) Notre Dame 31
Ohio State 22 1st Half 7:34
Penn State 20
Indiana 21 1st Half 7:28
(5) Maryland 24
Massachusetts 12 1st Half 11:00
Dayton 19
(22) George Washington 19 1st Half 10:08
Richmond 21
Saint Louis 8 1st Half 6:21
Rhode Island 31
Wright State 23 1st Half 7:36
Detroit 19
Green Bay 24 1st Half 7:52
Oakland 13
Central Arkansas 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
SE Louisiana 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Missouri 7:00 PM
(12) Texas A&M
Denver 7:00 PM
No Dakota State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
IUPUI 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Lamar 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Nicholls 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Western Ill 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 7:00 PM
(17) Iowa
(20) Rutgers 7:00 PM
(25) Northwestern
North Dakota 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
(24) California 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Stanford 8:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
USC 8:00 PM
Washington
Portland 8:00 PM
BYU
Gonzaga 8:00 PM
San Diego
San Francisco 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Auburn 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
(6) Tennessee 8:00 PM
Georgia
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UMKC 8:00 PM
Utah Valley U
Eastern Washington 8:00 PM
Montana State
Idaho 8:00 PM
Montana
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
UCLA 9:00 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
Pacific
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
Cal-Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close