Arthur Hobbs’ decision to join the Atlantic City Blackjacks came down to the coaching staff.
The defensive back played under head coach Ron James and offensive coordinator Shane Stafford while with the now-defunct Tampa Bay Storm in 2017. Hobbs had 22 tackles and six pass breakups that season to help the Storm reach ArenaBowl XXX.
Hobbs wanted that same success this season.
“Coach James is great, and he does a fabulous job,” said Hobbs, 29, of San Diego. “I would follow him to any city. I knew if he was coming here, then I figured the city couldn’t be too bad.”
Through 11 games, Hobbs has a career-high 53½ tackles and six pass breakups. Last season, Hobbs had 29 tackles with the Albany Empire.
“Every year you learn something different,” Hobbs said. “You get a chance to work on your craft more and more. I get to work on it with a coach that I already had before, so it kind of makes it a little easier, but I’m always trying to grow each year.”
Hobbs and the Blackjacks (4-7) are off this week and return home to conclude their regular season at 4 p.m. July 21 against the Baltimore Brigade (6-4) at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.
To reach the playoffs, the Blackjacks need to beat Baltimore, and the Washington Valor (5-5) must lose their final two games. The Valor was set to face the Brigade on Saturday night and the Columbus Destroyers (1-9) on July 20.
“It’s easier to get up for these games because everyone thinks you should just pack it up and go home,” Hobbs said. “It could be a situation where, even if we win, it doesn’t mean anything, but either way a lot of guys are going to come out like it's a playoff game.”
Hobbs had a career-high nine tackles against the Philadelphia Soul on April 27 and against the Destroyers on May 4.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, who also played for the now-defunct Orlando Predators in 2016, has 107½ tackles, 18 pass breakups and two interceptions in his four-year Arena Football League career.
“Arthur is a great football player,” James said. “He always gives everything he’s got, and I can always count on him. He has so much heart and soul, and he is a constant professional.”
James appreciated that Hobbs wanted to play for him this season.
“It is very important to me to have the respect of players that I coach,” James said. “Loyalty is a two-way street, and he’s one of those players that is a pleasure to coach.”
The AFL is fast-paced and geared toward offense.
“It makes the defenders’ job a little harder, but that’s what makes the challenge that much better,” said Hobbs, who played for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. “It’s a car crash every second, and it gets your adrenaline up. I love being a part of it.”
Hobbs, who is a personal trainer and works with developmentally disabled adults in the San Diego area during the offseason, enjoys spending time with his family, including nephews Donell, 15, and Tray, 10, and his niece, Cha, 8.
On July 6, an announced crowd of 7,104 came to Boardwalk Hall to see the Blackjacks lose to the Soul. It was the largest home crowd for A.C. during its inaugural season.
“The fans have shown me nothing but love,” Hobbs said. “They show up every game, and they stay after. I appreciate that. I have nothing to complain about the city. It is great.”