Q&A with former Arizona Wildcats Badass Jay Dobynsby Javier Morales on Nov. 26, 2011, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
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Wide receivers these days are perceived to be prima donnas who have more use of their mouths yapping than their guts making a catch in traffic in the middle of the field.
Former Arizona receiver Jay Dobyns is a talker — he has his own motivational speaking business — but that did not apply during his Wildcat career from 1982-84. His toughness spoke volumes, made opponents speechless and caused fans to hold their collective breath as they waited for him to get back on his feet after taking a lick.
“I just wanted to play like a crazy man,” Dobyns, our No. 1 offensive Arizona Wildcats Offensive Badass, told me this week. “I always felt that unless I scored a touchdown, no play should end on my feet. If I caught a pass, then someone was going to have to knock me down.
“If we ran the ball, then I was going to try to take someone out by any means necessary for a block. You can’t do that without giving up the goods.”
Dobyns, an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), takes offense to the word “soft”. His look is a far cry from that — shaved head, goatee, tattoes and that sneer.
“The worst thing that anyone could ever say to me was that I was soft,” Dobyns told me. “You can tell me I was small, slow, etc., etc., etc. But don’t ever call me soft. That was my mentality.”
Here’s the rest of my Q&A with Dobyns (with an honorable mention of all those who did not make our Top 10 lists):
Q: I use the word badass as a positive term in this series. In your point of view what does it take for a player to be like that and be effective like you were?
Dobyns: All the players you selected have one common denominator: They were reckless with their spirit, enthusiasm and their bodies. They are guys who were willing to lose it all to win it all.
Q: If you could spend a week with this year’s team what would you tell these kids?
Dobyns: Always get up. Sports, like life, are filled with getting knocked down. We set goals, fall short and guess what? The sun comes up the next morning. Always find a way to crawl to your feet and get in or stay in the fight for what you want and believe in.
Q: Who was the player or role model who drove you to be the kind of hard-nosed player that you were?
Dobyns: When I was a kid, I idolized Gayle Sayers. Man, I wanted to be able to run like him. Fred Biletnikoff and Bob Chandler — both slick route runners and pure hands guys. My favorite UA player was Scott Piper. He was the control receiver opposite “T” Bell that no one ever heard of but caught everything thrown to him.
Q: What did you do or say to get your teammates motivated?
Dobyns: I wanted them to see me at all times willing to do whatever I could to help us win. If it was going over the middle and getting destroyed to get a first down; if it was blocking down field for a teammate; if it was working before or after practice to make myself the best player I could be, I wanted my teammates to see a guy who wanted to win and help his team win more than anything. As the saying goes, I hated losing more than I loved winning. I hated to lose.
Q: How much did you wonder who would be the next Arizona football coach before athletic director Greg Byrne hired Rich Rodriguez?
Dobyns: A lot. I wanted Mr. Byrne to take Arizona football to a place where opponents fear us. We will not win every game. No team can or does. But, I wanted a coach to build a team that others are afraid of. I want Arizona football opponents to be looking for their teeth on the ground after they play us like ASU last weekend.
Honorable mention and notes:
Whenever a top 10 list is done like this, it’s difficult to have all the greats included. Furthermore, many of these players are interchangeable. If I had to do it all over again, I would have rated David Adams higher than No. 4 on the offensive list.
Think of it this way — Out of the other 19 players listed, Adams had the odds stacked against him more to play major college football with his size, or lack thereof, at 5-6, 165 pounds. Not only did Adams play for the Wildcats, he excelled to the point of being the Pac-10′s top running back his senior season of 1986. His success is similar to that of Chuck Cecil, our No. 1 choice on the defensive side.
Cecil was viewed as undersized also but he played with the type of reckless nature that Dobyns described in this interview. That toughness helped Cecil become an All-Pro player in 1992.
I included only offensive and defensive players in this list. If I included special-teams players, the name Paul Kasprzyk would certainly be chief among them. The gunner made a name for sacrificing his body to get to the returner. Anthony Gimino once wrote for Tucson Citizen that Kasprzyk had two moves on special teams coverage. There was “Superman,” where he would try to leap defenders in a single bound, and the “mere mortal” – a hard-headed bull-rush into the blocking wedge.
Gimino wrote that Kasprzyk (who played at Arizona from 1985-88) was so reckless that in his junior year against Stanford, an official turned to him late in the game and said, “No. 21, please don’t do anything to get hurt now.”
Here’s the honorable mention of the others who did not make the top 10 lists (remember, these players are from when the Pac-10 formed in 1978 to now):
OFFENSE: Keith Smith, QB; Warner Smith, OL; Mark Walczak, TE; Cullen Plousha, WR; Jeff Kiewel, OL; Brad Anderson, WR; Tom Tunnicliffe, QB; Mike Thomas, WR; Charlie Dickey, OL; Mike Freeman, OL; John Fina, OL; Terry Vaughn, WR; and Trung Canidate, RB.
DEFENSE: Chuck Osborne, DT; Jimmy Sprotte, LB; John Kaiser, LB; Antonio Pierce, LB; Lance Briggs, LB; Ivan Lesnik, DT; Adrian Koch, LB; Ricky Elmore, DE; Mike Scurlock, CB; Randy Robbins, DB; Chris McAlister, DB; Brooks Reed, DE; Cleveland Crosby, DT; Dana Wells, NG; Darryll Lewis, DB; Dave Liggins, DB; Lamonte Hunley, LB; Chris Singleton, LB; Jeff Hammerschmidt, DB; Joe Salave’a, DT; Spencer Larsen, LB; Glenn Perkins, LB; Stan Mataele, DT; DaShon Polk, LB; and Gordon Bunch, DB.
THE BADASS LIST
1. Chuck Cecil, safety (1984-87)
2. Ricky Hunley, linebacker (1980-83)
3. Rob Waldrop, defensive tackle (1990-93)
4. Tedy Bruschi, defensive end (1992-95)
5. Marcus Bell, linebacker (1996-99)
6. Byron Evans, linebacker (1983-86)
7. Brant Boyer, linebacker (1992-93)
8. Ty Parten, defensive tackle (1989-92)
9. Jimmie Hopkins, defensive end (1990-93)
10. Al “Bubba” Gross, safety (1979-82)
1. Jay Dobyns, wide receiver (1982-84)
2. Richard Dice, wide receiver (1993-96)
3. Kelvin Eafon, tailback/fullback (1996-98)
4. David Adams, tailback (1984-86)
5. Joe Tofflemire, center (1985-88)
6. Glenn Parker, offensive guard (1988-89)
7. Rob Gronkowski, tight end (2007-08)
8. Hicham El-Mashtoub, center (1991-94)
9. Dennis Northcutt, wide receiver (1996-99)
10. Nick Foles, quarterback (2009-11)