ANNAPOLIS, Md. – As Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo approached the visiting locker room at SMU's Gerald Ford Stadium on Oct. 17, 2009, his mind raced. He didn't know exactly what he would say to quarterback Ricky Dobbs, only that it wasn't going to be very pleasant.
Niumatalolo had just witnessed perhaps the worst first half of Dobbs' career. Navy's star quarterback – the same quarterback who would later break Tim Tebow's NCAA touchdown record – had done nothing but fumble, bumble and stumble through a forgettable first half against SMU. Dobbs lost two fumbles with the Mustangs returning one for a 1-yard touchdown en route to a 21-7 halftime lead.
Niumatalolo entered the locker room and stormed over to Dobbs' locker. But just as Mount Niumatalolo was about to erupt, he noticed Dobbs reading. Niumatalolo looked closer. Dobbs was reading his New International Version Bible.
"I'm getting ready to yell at him, I look down at him and he's reading the Bible," Niumatalolo told FanHouse. "It's hard to yell at someone when they're reading the Bible. I just said, 'Ricky, try your best and hold onto the ball' and kind of walked away."
It wasn't the first – or last – time Dobbs left someone speechless.
"At halftime I knew I needed strength to continue," Dobbs said. "I didn't know how I was going to finish that game. My (right) knee was throbbing and very painful."
So Dobbs looked through his Bible, searching for inspiration. Looking for strength. He found it in Isaiah 41:9-14, Verse 10.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
"It was reassuring for me," Dobbs said, "that when I went back out in the second half that God will strengthen me and help me."
After halftime, Dobbs rallied Navy to a 38-35 overtime victory. The throbbing right knee that had been bothering him since the game's first series? It turns out it was a broken knee cap. And he played the entire contest with the injury.
"What he did last year on basically one leg," Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. "That is a story that will go down and be told years from years from now."
But how do you tell the Ricky Dobbs story? At the beginning, of course. That's where all stories begin – and Dobbs' story got off to a rough start.
ust after he learned to walk, his parents divorced. His father, Clarence Dobbs, moved out, leaving 2-year old Ricky with his mother Barbara Cobb.
And Barbara Cobb did not deal with the divorce well. Her best friends soon became alcohol and a crack pipe.
Barbara Cobb told the Washington Post she was a "functional drug addict." It was a rarity when Barbara Cobb was home. More often than not, she was gone, leaving Ricky to be raised by various friends and relatives.
Still Ricky stayed strong and relied on his faith.
"I feel like God was covering me in midst of my surroundings and upbringings and allowed me to be exposed and gave me the eyes to decipher what to do and what not to do," Dobbs said. "That's what made it not as bad as it could -- or should -- have been.
"There were several occasions that could have turned bad. I wasn't around a lot of it, but in those situations I was fortunate enough."
Barbara Dobbs managed to shield her son from her problems. Ricky Dobbs said he didn't become aware of his mother's struggles with drugs and alcohol until he was in the eighth grade.
Eventually his mother conquered her personal demons only to be hit with even greater challenges: namely five heart attacks in a three-year period.
Yet, Barbara Dobbs survived. And Ricky Dobbs knows why.
"What God can do is not surprising," he said. "My mom is living testimony. She's flat-lined twice, had five heart attacks and open heart surgery, all within two to three years and she's still living and walking today.
"Impossible is not even in the dictionary with him. There's nothing that he can't do. He's made a way out of 'no way.'
"When people ask me about my confidence, it's not confidence in myself, it's the confidence in my God and what he can do for me," Dobbs said. My confidence in him bleeds through me."
Dobbs' confidence is contagious. Former Navy assistant Brian Bohannon, now Georgia Tech's quarterbacks coach, recruited Dobbs to Navy. The Midshipmen were the only FBS school to recruit Dobbs.
"As you get to know him – and everyone does know him – you realize he's just a winner," Bohannon said. "I remember telling Coach Jasper: 'this guy has something about him, he's a unique individual.'"
On Thursday evening, Dobbs will slip on his No. 4 Navy jersey one last time when the Midshipmen play San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
It's probably not ironic that Dobbs' final collegiate game is in a bowl game sponsored by a credit union, because Dobbs has been, well, money his entire career.
Dobbs has led Navy to an 18-6 record as a starter and has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 21 of his 24 career starts. His 27 rushing touchdowns last year – playing the second half of the season with that broken knee cap – broke Tebow's NCAA season record for quarterbacks. His 40 rushing touchdowns the past two years are the most by a quarterback in NCAA history in consecutive seasons.
"He will make you cheer, he will make you cry some times," Jasper said. "He's always like, 'I'm going to make this play, coach. I'm going to score.' He'll do some great things, but do some things that aren't that smart. You have to have that type of confidence and he certainly does."
Dobbs, who also is Navy's all-time leading scorer, is one of only six quarterbacks in NCAA history with at least two seasons with 1,000 yards rushing and passing in the same season.
Dobbs also was the winner of the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, given to the nation's top senior based on notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
Dobbs will graduate with a degree in general science. After graduation, he must fulfill a five-year military commitment.
After that, Dobbs has more plans. Big plans.
His goal is to become the 51st president of the United States in 2040.
"He's a person of great strength," Niumatalolo said. "He's a very resilient young man. He's been through so much in his life and he has a strong faith in God. That's his strength that gets him through a lot of things. He's had to draw on his strength in other things. His background and adversity he's had as a young man has certainly shaped him as a person."
"People instilled it in me that I'm quite the politician," said Dobbs, who will be 52 in 2040. "I'm always campaigning and that led me to think of all the characteristics that make up me: how can I use them and have the greatest effect. After thinking about it, that would be to become the president of the United States. I'm an ultimate people person.
"I can change the world and make the world a better place one person at a time. That's one of my goals each day to brighten someone's day. It could be interacting with someone or me just continuing to have a smile on my face."
Jasper said Dobbs certainly would get his vote. He's seen first-hand how people gravitate to Dobbs.
"You think, 'Is this kid for real? Is he playing us all?'" Jasper said. "But the kid has the 'it' factor. That's just the way he is. And it's all genuine."
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY