By Steve Williams
If you haven’t read Joshua Dobbs’ “Goodbye, Tennessee” on The Players’ Tribune yet, be sure you do. It tells you a lot about Dobbs the person as much as Dobbs the quarterback, and also how much he thinks of the University of Tennessee and its football program as well as its fans.
One of the first things I thought of after reading it was what a wonderful job Stephanie and Robert Dobbs did of raising Josh. In his well written piece, I learned even more about the outstanding young man that he is. I certainly see him being a great ambassador for UT and the Vols for years to come.
I could never understand some fans’ criticism of Dobbs as a quarterback. True, he wasn’t one of the Vols’ all-time passing greats, but I thought he was a better passer than what a lot of folks thought of him. And isn’t it funny that the one play Tennessee fans will probably remember and cherish most about Dobbs was that Hail Mary pass Between the Hedges to beat Georgia with no time left on the clock this past season.
“I saw the ref’s arms go straight up,” wrote Dobbs. The reaction of the Tennessee faithful in the stands said it all.
“We were surrounded by 90,000 Georgia fans, but the only sound in the stadium was of Vols fans singing ‘Rocky Top’.”
When I look at his passing numbers over his career and his senior season, they look pretty good to me. He completed 61.5 percent of 999 career attempts and almost had a 2 to 1 ratio (53-29) in touchdowns and interceptions. As a senior, he completed 63 percent of his passes for an average of 226.6 yards per game, with 27 TDs and 12 INTs.
As for running the ball and creating excitement, I would rank Dobbs second behind Condredge Holloway, The Artful Dodger from 1972-74. Josh ran for 32 touchdowns in his career and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
In addition to his skills, Dobbs appeared to be a true team leader and 100 percent loyal to his head coach throughout his career and in the toughest of times.
It’s too bad Dobbs and the Vols didn’t win the SEC East and make it to Atlanta and the conference championship game against Alabama, as they had been predicted to do. I’d think Josh would have had many, many friends from his nearby stomping grounds of Alpharetta in the Goergia Dome that day rooting him on.
But Dobbs and his class did do a lot to help put the Tennessee football program back on track and in contention once again.
“It’s been a thrilling ride, with some ups and some downs,” wrote Josh. “And I’m sad it’s coming to an end – like any kid on his favorite roller coaster.”
There are so many other things to admire about Dobbs. While he was the 2016 Athlon SEC Offensive Player of the Year, I’m just as impressed, if not more, with his academic accomplishments as an aerospace engineering major. If he just hadn’t studied so much the week before the South Carolina game. I’m just kidding, of course.
Josh’s community service in Knoxville and Gatlinburg and throughout the area, his willingness to sign countless autographs, the time he took to visit youngsters with serious health issues, the way he represented his football program and university – there’s just so much to appreciate about this young man.
I’ll certainly be pulling for him as he chases a dream to play in the NFL. I’ll be interested in following his path after football, too.
“Whatever the next chapter of my life may hold in store,” wrote Dobbs, “I’m committed to being a positive influence in my community and to those around me – and hopefully continuing to make Tennessee proud.”
Goodbye Josh and best wishes. The pleasure’s been all mine.