Strength coach ready to build up Huskers

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BY CURT McKEEVER / Lincoln Journal Star

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 - 08:55:42 pm CST

James Dobson can’t talk about his nine-years’ experience as assistant strength coach at the University of Iowa without being asked about some of the Hawkeyes’ most prized out-of-nowhere pupils.

There’s safety Bob Sanders, who barely got recruited at the NCAA Division I level, became an All-American in 2003 and just this season was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the Indianapolis Colts.

Or Colts’ tight end Dallas Clark, who became an All-American and 2002 first-round NFL Draft pick after beginning his Iowa career as a walk-on linebacker.

Story Photo
NU Strength Coach James Dobson

Or Robert Gallery, who came to Iowa a 240-pound tight end and developed into a 320-pounder offensive tackle who won the 2003 Outland Trophy and was the No. 2 selection in the 2004 draft

Dobson likes talking about those guys, too, but no more than “the guy who worked his tail off and finally got to play in Kinnick Stadium.”

As the Nebraska football program’s new strength and conditioning coach, the 34-year-old Dobson plans on having a lot more of those tales to cite in the coming years, too.

Dobson’s hiring was officially announced by coach Bo Pelini on Tuesday. A native of Mount Horeb, Wis., and graduate of Wisconsin who spent his first two years in the business as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Southern Methodist, Dobson didn’t have a working history or personal acquaintance with Pelini before being hired by Nebraska.

But another member of Pelini’s staff knew all about the reputation Dobson apparently built while he worked under Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle.

“Barney Cotton was a gentlemen who was at Iowa State when we were at Iowa, and he got to know our program a little bit,” Dobson said. “I think maybe they saw how our kids worked hard and developed.”

That attribute will be something Dobson pushes on the Huskers.

In his new position, he’ll oversee all aspects of strength conditioning, including the winter conditioning program, summer workouts and in-season strength training. Nebraska begins winter conditioning on Monday.

“Any type of change is an adjustment for anybody, myself included, but one thing you can’t lose sight of is they’re football players, and you train them (that way,)” Dobson said. “The expectation levels (will be to) show up, work hard, be accountable and be good people. And players want to be accountable.”

Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or

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