When Joshua Dobbs first stepped onto the University of Tennessee campus in 2013 as a part of Head Coach Butch Jones’ first recruiting class, no one could’ve predicted the huge impact Dobbs’ career would have both on and off the field. Since that time Vols fans have watched Dobbs run wild against SEC defenses, throw game-winning touchdowns, and develop a following of fans across Big Orange Country.
Dobbs’ career started with the expectation that he would redshirt in 2013, his freshman year, but he was thrown into action in the 8th game of the season against Alabama when starting QB Justin Worley went down with a season-ending injury. Although the Vols lost that game, it was a glimpse of what was to come in an iconic college career. Even opposing Alabama coach Nick Saban noticed Dobbs’ performance, basically saying his defense wasn’t prepared for such a quick change to a mobile quarterback like Josh Dobbs. Dobbs went on to have a rather uneventful 2013 season throwing 2 touchdowns through the air and running for another. Tennessee finished the year with a 5-7 record.
In 2014 it was expected once again that Tennessee would attempt to redshirt Dobbs, as a result of not being able to in his freshman year. But in the Alabama game, Justin Worley went down with another season-ending injury and Josh Dobbs was called on once again. Down 27 to 0 when Dobbs went in the game, the Vols stormed back and only lost 34 to 20. The next week at South Carolina cemented Dobbs as the full-time starting quarterback. Tennessee was down 42 to 28 against South Carolina with little time left in the game. Dobbs and the Volunteers had the ball. Josh Dobbs single-handedly drove the team down the field on a 75-yard drive to close the deficit to 42 to 35. After the defense forced a punt they got the ball back. With 85 yards standing between the Vols and the game tying score, Dobbs accepted the challenge, driving down the field to score the game-tying touchdown with 11 seconds remaining. The score tied at 42 apiece, the game went into overtime. The Vols later won in overtime by a score of 45 to 42! Dobbs finished that game with 166 rushing yards, a Tennessee record for quarterback rushing yards. The Vols, now led by Dobbs, went on to win in a blowout over Kentucky, before falling to Missouri, then triumphing over Vanderbilt. The 6-6 record sent Tennessee to its first bowl game since the 2009-10 season. In the Taxslayer Bowl against Iowa, Dobbs went off passing for 129 yards on 16 of 21 passes, and a touchdown score. In the running game, Dobbs racked up 84 yards on 13 carries and 2 touchdowns. His performance in the bowl resulted in Dobbs being named the Taxslayer Bowl MVP. Dobbs’ 2014 totals finished at 9 passing touchdowns and 8 running touchdowns, and the Vols improved their record from 2013 by two games, finishing 7-5.
Last year, in 2015, Dobbs and the Vols came into the year with high expectations. Dobbs preformed valiantly the entire season. One of his best performances came against Georgia, as the Vols were down 24 to 3 at one point, before Dobbs led the team back to a mere 7-point deficit at halftime. Down 24 to 17, Dobbs opened up the score in the 2nd half by running it in for a 5-yard touchdown and tying the score at 24. Dobbs then found Alvin Kamara in the end zone later in the quarter to take a 31 to 24 lead! Georgia created some drama by score a 4th quarter touchdown and tying the game at 31. But that was nothing for Dobbs and company! Dobbs, once again, led the team down the field on a 78-yard drive and he ran it in from 5 yards out for the game-winning touchdown. Dobbs racked up 312 yards and 3 touchdowns throwing that day, and ran for 118 yards and 2 more touchdowns as well. Tennessee won their last 6 games of the season, which ended with a 45 to 6 rout of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. Dobbs went wild again in the Outback Bowl throwing for 166 yards, and running for 48 yards and 2 touchdowns in the victory. Dobbs finished 2015 with over 2000 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, and 11 rushing touchdowns. Tennessee finished 2015 with a 9-4 record, another 2 game improvement from a year ago.
This year, Dobbs’ senior year, the Volunteers entered the year as SEC East favorites. That prediction will come true if the Vols win their last two games, and Florida losses to LSU on Saturday. Dobbs has been a game changer in 2016, leading the team to wins over Virginia Tech, Florida, and Georgia, and a 7-3 record through the first 10 games. Against Florida, Dobbs led Tennessee to a 38 to 28 win, after being down 21 to 3 at halftime. Against Georgia, Dobbs threw a last second Hail Mary touchdown to Jauan Jennings to give the Vols a 34 to 31 win. Thus far in 2016, Dobbs has passed for 21 touchdowns and over 2000 yards, and run for 7 touchdowns.
Dobbs has been named SEC player of the week numerous times, and is listed on a number of finalist lists of prestigious quarterback awards this year. Dobbs has also been highly praised for his intense studies in the classroom as well. His major is in Aerospace Engineering, and he was named to the 2014 and 2015 SEC Academic honor roll. He will most likely be given that honor once again in 2016. Along with all of his amazing wins and honors, he has impacted the Knoxville community and the state unlike any other major sports figure in recent years. Dobbs always takes time to sign an autograph or pose for a picture with a fan. He has secured his spot as a Tennessee legend.
Joshua Dobbs will always be remembered as one of the most revered Tennessee Vols to ever step foot onto the field at Neyland Stadium, and although he might not be Peyton Manning, his impact has been unrivaled as a part of the Tennessee football team. Dobbs embodies what it means to be a Vol for Life, and “giving your all for Tennessee” every day. Most importantly, Dobbs took a chance on a football program and it payed off big time! He was able to be a part of bringing the Tennessee football program back to their winning ways, and for that Vols fans will forever be grateful. When Tennessee takes on Missouri Saturday, Vols fans will cheer on Dobbs one last time in Neyland Stadium, and get a chance to say “thanks for the memories.”