By Alex Norman
I saw something on Twitter the other day that made me laugh out loud.
To summarize, the tweeter said that Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs will not be remembered fondly by Vols fans because he never beat Alabama.
Let that hot take sink in for a moment.
Sure, Joshua Dobbs never beat Alabama. But you know what? Hardly anyone beats Alabama.
Dobbs won’t be remembered like Heath Shuler or Peyton Manning or Casey Clausen or any of the other successful quarterbacks of the past quarter century. And that’s fine. Because Dobbs will stand on his own in Tennessee history.
“The time flew by,” said Dobbs. “It feels like I’ve been here a while, but it also feels like it has flown by. It has been enjoyable and I’m just trying to keep everything in perspective.”
As the story goes, Dobbs was heading to Arizona State, but was convinced by then new Vols head coach Butch Jones to flip to Tennessee shortly before National Signing Day in 2013. He joined a quarterback stable that included Justin Worley, Nathan Peterson, and fellow freshman Riley Ferguson.
Dobbs and Ferguson were the future of the program. But in the middle of the 2013 season it became apparent that Dobbs was going to be the guy. Worley was injured and Peterman was awful, so Dobbs came off the bench and gave up a possible red-shirt to play against Alabama. The Vols would finish the season 5-7 and miss a bowl game, but Dobbs showed some signs that he could be pretty good.
Ferguson would transfer following spring practice and in 2014 the pattern continued. Worley was injured and Peterman was not good. So once again the Vols called upon Dobbs and this time he led Tennessee to a bowl game, going 4-1 as a starter, including a memorable overtime victory at South Carolina and a TaxSlayer Bowl win over Iowa.
Peterman would then transfer to Pittsburgh (and he’s good now!). The quarterback competition was over.
Despite taking a battering, Dobbs would start every game in 2015, leading the Vols to a 9-4 record, including the Vols first win over rival Georgia since 2009, and an Outback Bowl win over Northwestern.
And while there have been grumblings about how the highly anticipated 2016 season has gone, Dobbs was at his best in the Florida game, leading the Vols back from a 21 point deficit. He accounted for five touchdowns and 399 yards of total offense as Tennessee snapped an 11 game losing streak to arguably their most hated rivals. He also had that memorable Hail Mary to beat Georgia.
Was Dobbs the most accurate passer in Tennessee history? No. But wins are what matters and considering the abyss that the Vols had been in when Dobbs arrived in Knoxville, a 21-11 career record as a starter (as of press time) is pretty darn good.
But off the field is where Dobbs’ legacy is really cemented at Tennessee. Academically he is an Aerospace Engineering major. Whether he makes it to the NFL or not, his brain will take him far.
His friendship with an area youngster named AJ Cucksey, who has battled inoperable brain tumors, gave Tennessee some well needed PR at a time when so much negativity surrounded the program and the university.
Dobbs treats others with respect, and in today’s world that really does mean something.
With over 8100 yards (and counting) in total offense, Dobbs will go down in the top 4 in Tennessee football history. His arm wasn’t as strong as that of say Tyler Bray, but Bray’s immaturity summed up the Derek Dooley era.
If Dobbs’ maturity sums up the Butch Jones era, Tennessee will be a winner, whether they have an SEC championship on their mantle on not.