Parkwood standout still open to pursuing his dream of playing football
By Lee Noles
MONROE – Sam Mobley knew he needed to find the joy again to his football career after the professional leagues he played in folded and opportunities in the NFL didn’t materialize.
The chance came when the former Parkwood High standout returned to coach at the school where he made a name as a speedy down the sideline receiver who could also turn short passes into big gains.
“I just wanted to come back and provide a little knowledge and what I have learned from my years of playing,” Mobley said. “And it was a good opportunity with a new coach and a fresh start. I have known the kids. I am familiar with the area, and I want to help as much as possible.”
But maybe the opportunity was more than just teaching technique and routes to players. Maybe, for Mobley, helping teenagers learn life lessons the way his late father taught him was more important.
Samuel Mobley got his son into football by registering with a local recreational league when his son was 7 years old. It was the perfect situation. The older Mobley coached as his son took his dad’s advice to become a stronger player on the field and a better person off it. The relationship stayed that way through Mobley’s years at Parkwood Middle. When he started playing at Parkwood High in 2011, his father became a spectator and watched Mobley become an all-state receiver who finished his career with 27 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards receiving. College soon followed, and Mobley’s dad was there as his son played in the junior college ranks before transferring to Division II Catawba College.
Everything was going right for the younger Mobley, but it all changed when Samuel died at 46 years old from heart failure.
“It was definitely tough. I relied on him a lot for advice,” Mobley said. “Once he had passed, it was tough on me. I kind of used the tools and advice he gave to help me get through the tough times I was going through.”
His father’s death drove Mobley into Catawba’s record books as his 1,046 yards receiving his senior year was the most in a single season for the program. It also helped him garner all South Atlantic Conference honors.
The success got him an invite to a Pro-Day at UNC Charlotte but looks from the NFL never happened. Mobley then signed with the Salt Lake City Stallions in the fledgling Alliance American Football. He struggled at first but was finding his niche on special teams when the league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and folded in April 2019.
It was then Mobley was contacted by Parkwood assistant football coach Bryan Tamalone to come back to his old school. Mobley decided against the offer and latched on with the XFL after tryouts with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos in the NFL didn’t result in any opportunities.
The outcome was the same as Mobley spent much of the season finding his place with the Houston Roughnecks before a breakout game in the fifth week as he went for six catches for 95 yards. It was also his last as the league folded a month later and filed for bankruptcy.
“It’s been tough. It seems whenever I get going and start to make the most of opportunities, it falls apart,” Mobley said. “But I keep my head up and keep going and get myself ready when an opportunity presents itself.”
The keep-moving-forward mentality is something Mobley learned from his father and now instills in his players at Parkwood. After the XFL ceased operations, Mobley contacted the Parkwood coaching staff about helping with the team.
Terry Gittens takes over a Parkwood program that was 7-5 last season after winning a combined four games the previous two years.
“It brings the joy back to me and to see how happy (the players) are is great,” Mobley said. “At the professional level it can be tough. You don’t know what is going to happen on a daily basis. With the kids they don’t have to worry about much. … They are just playing because they are enjoying it.”
The dreams of playing professionally aren’t over for Mobley, who spent the summer running routes with NFL quarterback, and Charlotte native, Daniel Jones as well as Carolina Panthers quarterback Phillip Walker.
Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson announced Aug. 3 on Twitter that he and business partners had acquired the XFL.
“My pro-football dreams never came true, but buying the XFL allows me to help other player’s dreams come true,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “And give the fans something special and fun – for the love of football.”
Mobley is open to returning.
“I definitely plan on going back (to the XFL) if the opportunity presents itself,” Mobley said. “I think it will come back. I don’t know how it will look with the coronavirus, but I think they have plans to bring it back in 2021.”
Mobley plans on coaching at Parkwood for the rest of the season. Coaches and players support him following his dreams.
Even though playing professional football is still an opportunity for Mobley, he is happy helping his players in high school get better. He also knows his dad would feel the same way.
“I think he would think I was doing a great thing and following in his footsteps,” Mobley said. “I think he would be happy with me helping these kids be successful at the high school level and at life.”