If he wanted to, Ricky Dobbs could voice his bragging rights over Tim Jefferson.
Dobbs beat Jefferson in high school football, and again in basketball when both were growing up near Atlanta. When Dobbs went to Navy and Jefferson went to Air Force to be college quarterbacks, Dobbs’ teams gained two more wins.
The two are casual friends, but Dobbs is a Southern gentleman when he talks to Jefferson. His record in their head-to-head meetings never comes up.
“I think we’re humble guys and we wouldn’t say that to each other,” Dobbs said. “Even when we play against each other, I hope he does well. I want him to play his heart out like I know he will.”
One reason for Dobbs’ silence is the respect the two quarterbacks have for each other. Another might be that Dobbs knows Jefferson has one more chance at breaking that streak – and Air Force’s seven-game losing streak against Navy – this year.
After so many losses, Jefferson wouldn’t mind getting a victory against Dobbs before Navy’s senior quarterback graduates.
“It would be special since it’s his last year,” Jefferson said. “If I can ruin that Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy hopes for him, it would be great.”
Dobbs is the better known of the two Atlanta-area service academy quarterbacks. After all, nobody is mounting a “Jefferson for Heisman” campaign, like Dobbs had this year.
Jefferson doesn’t seem bothered by the attention Dobbs gets, but is aware of it. In fact, Jefferson sounds like he could take over Dobbs’ Heisman campaign when asked what he likes about his friend’s game.
“His toughness,” Jefferson said. “He runs the ball maybe 25-plus times a game. He’s in there every play running the ball, and he’s like Jared Tew for us – he pounds it. And then when you think he’s going to run it, he pops back and throws it over your head.
“He’s a gifted athlete, he’s spirited, and everybody seems to flock to him. He always has a smile on his face. You can’t find much to say bad about him. I think he’s the vice president of his class. What can’t he do?”
Jefferson can do some things too, and this season he is starting to get noticed a little more. He has played very well through four games for Air Force, and has probably been the Falcons’ offensive MVP so far.
“I think one reason Air Force’s offense is clicking at a high level is because Tim Jefferson is playing with such confidence,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Dobbs and Jefferson aren’t great friends – they don’t speak very often, but keep in touch here and there and have mutual admiration and respect. When Jefferson and Dobbs met in college for the first time in 2008, neither one was the starter. But both played some off the bench, and envisioned bigger days ahead.
“I told him I thought he should have been starting, and he told me the same,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs said it was “very special” for not just two guys from the same area to be starting at quarterback for service academy teams, but also for two African-American quarterbacks to be starting in a service academy game. That had only happened once in the Navy-Air Force rivalry before last year, when Gary McIntosh (Navy) and Jarvis Baker (Air Force) squared off in 1990.
This is the last meeting for Jefferson and Dobbs, and they’ll put everything into it.
“We’re from Georgia, so you’re going to get the best from us,” Dobbs said.