School work, play on field earn Nevada's Jordan Dobrich top of class honors
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After all, how many student-athletes are an academic chair of the nation’s oldest and largest professional engineering fraternity, were a finalist for the nation’s top scholar-athlete award and have amassed more than 260 tackles as a linebacker?
“Balancing everything was the greatest challenge for me,” said Dobrich, who was one of 12 William V. Campbell Trophy finalists, awarded to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete. “Time management and everything else was really tough. There was an extreme amount of stress involved in trying to be one of the best engineers in the class while also trying to be one of the best defensive players on the team.”
The athletic load will be lifted as the fifth-year senior concludes his collegiate career at Nevada with an Arizona Bowl date against Colorado State on Tuesday in Tucson. The academic load will continue its demanding course as following completion of his undergrad in the spring Dobrich will pursue a master’s in petroleum engineering.
Dobrich has always been fascinated with numbers, though he did not initially pursue engineering at Nevada. In fact, it was not until he took courses in calculus and science that he decided to go that route. He switched majors moving from neuro science to mechanical engineering following his sophomore year.
“I have always had a passion for math,” he said. “It was always my favorite subject in school and engineering is extremely math based. I did not really enjoy the path of learning in the biology and health science classes. I really enjoyed the engineering way of learning. It is more about strategy and problem solving.”
As Dobrich has attempted to solve many an opposing offense the numbers under “tackles” have added up considerably over the course of his career in Reno. He enters the bowl game second on the Wolf Pack in tackles with 90, including 5.5 for a loss.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder from Magalia, Calif., about a three-hour drive from the university in Reno, has also intercepted two passes, one of which he took back 25 yards for a touchdown during a Nov. 21 loss at Utah State.
That is the type of impact Dobrich has had since being named a co-captain as a sophomore. He has been a team captain since.
“It was huge honor being named a captain,” he said. “I was rather surprised that my teammates voted me a captain, being such a young guy. I guess my teammates saw something in me back then. I was known as a guy who got down, got to work and took care of things. I think that is where the respect stemmed from.”
All the while the respect was coming off the field as well in the form of being a two-time academic all-district selection and earning similar Mountain West Conference accolades. Dobrich is also a Golden Key National Honour Society member, the world’s largest collegiate honor society. The membership applies to the top 15 percent of sophomores, junior and seniors in all fields of study.
“I actually really admire my academic awards,” said Dobrich, who speaks to grade school students with the goal of stimulating them to become interested in the principles of engineering and the like. “That is because people, whether it be family, friends, people at the university or even strangers, always want to talk to me about football. It is rare for anybody to talk to me about engineering or about school. So when I receive these academic awards it makes me feel good. People are recognizing me for my football achievements, but they are also recognizing me for my scholastic achievements. There is a lot of time and work doing what I do in school and to know it has paid off is a positive experience for me.”
On the field, he and the Wolf Pack (6-6) would like to conclude the season on a positive note by celebrating a bowl victory. Dobrich knows a win will not come easily against fellow MWC member Colorado State (7-5).
“They have a strong running game and as a middle linebacker this is my game and I love playing against run-heavy teams,” said Dobrich, who turns 23 on Wednesday. “I think it will be a game of toughness and that it turns into old-school football in a way. I am looking forward to it.”
Above: Jordan Dobrich's play on the field earned him a co-captaincy when he was just a sophomore (Courtesy John Byrne/Nevada Athletics)
Middle: Jordan Dobrich was one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Award, the academic Heisman. (Courtesy National Football Foundation).