DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nettie Hobbs has kept a wall in her Dallas-area house unadorned, leaving enough space to hang four college diplomas.
After Saturday, she'll finally have something to put up there.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ellis Hobbs, the oldest of Nettie and Ellis Jr.'s four children, will return to Iowa State this weekend to receive his diploma, four years after leaving the school to pursue an NFL career.
Hobbs was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft and left Iowa State seven credits shy of his bachelor's degree in art and design.
"We always talked about him going back, and he said 'Momma, I'll promise you I will get my degree for you. All that hard work won't go in vain,'" Nettie Hobbs said. "He kept that promise, he did what he needed to do, and now he's getting it, and it's just a wonderful feeling. It really and truly is."
Hobbs, who started 38 games for the Cyclones from 2001 to 2004, said his offseason internship included special effects animation.
"Football is not always promised, and one day, it's going to have to end. And you don't know when it might end," Nettie Hobbs said. "Having a degree is something he can fall back on."
Ellis is the oldest of four children, and his mother said all his siblings are in line to join him on the diploma wall. His brother, Donald, is attending North Texas, and sisters Angi and D'Andra are both at Auburn.
They're all planning to head to Ames, Iowa, for Ellis' graduation ceremony Saturday, capping a hectic few weeks for Hobbs. After starting every game the past two seasons for New England at cornerback, he unexpectedly was shipped to Philadelphia for two fifth-round draft picks.
Though the trade was a surprise, Nettie Hobbs said her son is excited about the move.
"Like I told him, 'We can't help but be in good spirits because the Lord has blessed you with another job,'" she said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press