When Ronderius Dowles left for Tuesday to enroll in Arkansas Baptist College, his mother wasn't far behind. As mother's tend to do, Mary Hobbs made the trip to Little Rock to make sure everything was suitable.
Ms. Hobbs' visit exceeded her expectations and it had nothing to do with her son's opportunity to continue his football career.
Once Dowles informed Ms. Hobbs that he planned to pursue a degree in religious studies, he had won his mother's approval.
“Once I told her what I was majoring in, she nearly broke down in tears,” Dowles said.
Does his choice of majors, mean Dowles is considering becoming a preacher?
“I might,” Dowles replied.
That's a totally different answer than Hobbs would have given only a couple of weeks — if not a couple of days —ago. Though others have predicted that Dowles would enter the ministry, he wanted no part of the pulpit.
“I've had six different preachers prophesy and tell me that I was going to be a preacher,” Dowles said. “It was crazy because I have never wanted to be a preacher. My momma has always said, 'It's the ones who don't want to be a preacher who end up being the best ones.”
Until last week, Hobbs was more concerned about where he would playing football than his major. As summer approached, the Bastrop High defensive back had not received a single scholarship offer.
Hobbs admits that some past mistakes caused recruiters to shy away. He quit the team during his
sophomore year and was academically ineligible as a junior.
“I just had a lot of growing up to do,” Dowles said. “I was starting my sophomore year when I quit. I thought the team needed me, but I learned that every program is going to move on.”
?Hobbs learned another valuable lesson as he sat out his junior year.
“It made me want to work hard and get my grades,” Dowles said. “If you don't have the grades, you can't do anything.”
Rejoining the Rams last spring, Dowles quickly played his way into the starting lineup. Splitting time between strong safety and free safety, he recorded 50 tackles with a safety, an interception, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Dowles also competed in track as a senior, helping the Rams' 4 x 400-meter relay to a third place finish at the State Meet.
Although a couple of schools expressed interest here and there, Dowles never received an offer.
Meanwhile, Bastrop High running back Xavier Robinson found himself in a similar situation. When Robinson accepted Arkansas Baptist's offer to join the football team on Friday, May 18 — the day of Bastrop High's graduation — he encouraged Dowles to consider joining him in Little Rock.
A four-year school, which started its football program only five years ago, Arkansas Baptist competes at the junior college level and doesn't offer athletic scholarships. But the school did present an opportunity for Dowles to play football.
“When Xa told me about them, that was the first time I had ever heard of Arkansas Baptist,” Dowles said. “I talked to the coaches and they wanted me to come. Once I heard from the coaches, there was no question I was going to Arkansas Baptist. I just wanted a chance to play.”
Dowles attended the first day of summer classes Thursday and worked out with the football team the same afternoon.
“It's cool up here,” Dowles said. “They have me at cornerback right now. Whatever I have to do to make it, I'll do it.”
Dowles and Robinson are now roommates. Former Neville free safety and backup quarterback Jamon Collins and former Oak Grove standout Kendrick Jackson are one room over.
“We have one little All-Louisiana dorm,” Dowles said.
Dowles' first week of college could not have gone any smoother. Mary Hobbs has returned home, a happy and proud mother.