Michigan captain Victor Hobson has never been much for bringing attention to himself. Luckily, his mother, Audrey, has always taken care of that for him.
Since Victor was playing Pop Warner football as a kid, she has kept every trophy, newspaper clipping or internet article that even mentioned her son’s name.
“We keep a scrapbook of everything,” Audrey said.
That’s probably because getting Victor to glorify himself is like trying to convince a criminal to confess his crime.
“He never has talked about himself, the whole time he’s been playing ball in school,” Audrey said.
The linebacker is the chosen leader of more than 100 guys, and he can’t think of one pet-peeve that gets under his skin. Even when his defensive teammates dance or celebrate after a big hit – something Hobson refuses to do – he takes a passive attitude.
“I’ve always had coaches that tried to instill the ‘act like you’ve been there’ (attitude),” Hobson said. “That’s just me. That’s how I play. I’m not a showy kind of guy. I’m conservative in what I do.”
But predictable? No.
Senior defensive end Dan Rumishek remembers one time in practice when defensive tackle Norman Heuer missed the play call in the huddle. The offense was hurrying up to the line, and then, something incredible happened.
“I’d never heard the man yell before,” Rumishek said. “He’s got that deep voice. Everyone was in silence, like ‘Was that Vic?’ ”
It might not have been the same Victor Hobson. Safety Cato June is convinced that Hobson has a multiple-personality disorder.
“Vic definitely has two sides to him,” said June, who has roomed with Hobson for three straight years. “When that switch goes off, he’s a different person. I’ll be like, ‘Man, what’s wrong with this dude, he’s like crazy or something.’
“That’s why I don’t think he’s human. He’s quiet and then he’s all crazy.”
June gets to see the Hobson that not many people get a glimpse of. He also gets to hear him – whether he likes it or not.
“Vic is the biggest snorer in America,” June said. “I can promise you that. I swear, my aunt was over one time and she thought we had a bear in the back.
“I’m just amazed that a human can snore that loud. Just watch him, let him be bored for a minute, and he’ll snore.”
Hobson’s “sleeping disorder” has given him quite a reputation on the team. Nobody wants to room with him on road trips.
“I am used to it, I can fall asleep,” June said. “I’ve been hearing him through the walls at the house, but everybody else is like, ‘No, I’m not rooming with Vic, I’m not rooming with Vic.’ (Former linebacker Larry) Foote used to complain all the time.”
But Hobson doesn’t let his quirks keep him from accomplishing his goals. He’s a preseason All-America candidate in just about every publication, and coach Lloyd Carr firmly believes he can be one of the top linebackers in Michigan’s history.
The family man
But Carr is lucky to have Hobson sporting the winged helmet on Saturdays. Hobson grew up infatuated with the “Fab Five,” and always wanted to go to Michigan to play basketball.
“He and all his friends always said they were going to Michigan when they saw the Fab Five,” Audrey said. “They were going to be the next basketball team.”
But Victor’s father, Matthew Hobson, said that his son never owned a pair of baggy block ‘M’ shorts.
“He’s not too much for fads,” Matthew said. “The different styles that kids wear, like the braids, baggy pants, shorts, you probably won’t see him with those.”
Victor may not have been the king of style, but he found something to wear every day, nonetheless. The New Jersey native never missed a day of elementary school or high school. His mother has the certificates to prove it.
Audrey also knows a thing or two about attendance, as she’s never missed a football game at Michigan Stadium during Victor’s five years on the team. That’s just how the Hobson family works.
“I’m close with both my parents,” Victor said. “I guess my mother is the opposite of my father. I get my personality from both of them, but more so the laid back attitude from my father.”
Matthew had plenty of time to rub off his quiet, simple personality on his son when he’d drive 30 minutes each day to pick Victor up at football practice. Victor and his father were never really emotional with each other. Matthew would let Audrey handle all the mushy stuff. He concentrated on discipline, school and making sure Victor learned at a young age to “not be disruptive.”
Matthew checks up on Victor, even now, to make sure he’s still on the right track.
“I see coach Carr and his other coaches, and I see how he’s doing,” Matthew explained. “It’s always a positive comment. He respects other people and doesn’t create problems.”
Audrey has always won Victor’s devotion with her home cooking, especially his favorite dish: Hamburger casserole. She always has something ready for him and his teammates after a tough game. In fact, it’s become a gameday tradition at the house June and Hobson share in Ann Arbor.
“Marquise (Walker’s) mother and Todd Howard’s mother used to help me,” Audrey said. “A lot of the people left. Whoever comes, whatever we have, you’re welcome. It’s like family.”
And that’s just the way Victor likes it.
Tight end and fellow captain Bennie Joppru remembers one time in two-a-days that Hobson knocked him out for a few seconds.
Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle Holiday has probably been having nightmares ever since last Saturday’s Irish victory. Hobson hit Holiday with his “signature move” at least two times. “The move,” as June tabbed it, consists of a lift of the victim, then a drive into the turf and a crash landing by the 6-foot-1, 243-pound linebacker.
“It’s funny because I know every time he makes a tackle he’s going to lift them up and then drop them down,” June said. “That’s an intimidating thing, when people on the sidelines see him do that.
“I tell him he was made like six years ago because he came in as a freshman and he was just as big. I was like, ‘Man, this guy’s a robot.’ I haven’t seen him bleed or nothing.”
Bear, robot, whatever he is, Hobson is living up to his preseason billing. He leads Michigan with 21 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks through three games.
But more importantly, as Rumishek puts it, “he’s one heckuva leader.” Of course, with Hobson, that’s usually by example. Linebacker Zach Kaufman said he has learned more from Hobson’s ability to dissect tape of opponents than anything else.
“He’ll tell you what to watch for, and most of the time, it happens,” Kaufman said.
All that time in the film room should have made Hobson a stud at NCAA 2003, the new college football game for PlayStation 2. But June says Hobson’s game needs refining.
“I beat him all the time, and he gets all mad and tries to wrestle me and stuff,” June said.
And what if he uses the signature move next time?
“I’ve got a bat in my room,” June said. “I’m not worried about it.”
That’s good. Hobson’s never been one to create a worry.