Joshua Dobbs: Give that man his due

Joshua Dobbs has himself in elite company along the names of Vol greats like Peyton Manning and others. He also has been an ambassador for the University of Tennessee. Along the way he led the resurgence of Big Orange football.

When Joshua Dobbs runs thru the T for the last time on Saturday, will Tennessee fans really realize what they have witnessed the past four years?

Condredge Holloway, Peyton Manning, Casey Clausen and Erik Ainge need to make room for another elite VFL signal-caller to join them in Tennessee football lore.

Dobbs will leave the University of Tennessee in the aformentioned elite company when his career is done. He already owns the all-time leading rushing quarterback title and has more rushing touchdowns than any Vol signal-caller.

What Butch Jones, then-coordinator Mike Bajakian and Tennessee got in changing Dobbs' mind away from Arizona State has been much more than just a running quarterback.

Holloway, a dual-threat passer, is talked about affectionately as being one of the greatest field generals to ever play for the Orange & White. Dobbs' stats blow his out of the water. Dobbs' total offense output of 8,145 yards trails only Manning (11,020), Clasusen (9,577) and Ainge (8,473).

Oftentimes unfairly criticized as being an inaccurate passer, Dobbs' career completion percentage of 60.2 is well ahead of Holloway's 58.5 and also ranks higher than national title winning quarterback Tee Martin (55.5). With just 113 more passing yards Dobbs will pass Andy Kelly for fifth all-time, just behind the likes of Manning, Clausen, Ainge and Tyler Bray. Dobbs will also finish top five in touchdown passes.

Dobbs has taken his share of ire from Vol fans for throwing 29 career interceptions. Looking closer at those numbers will show that Dobbs has made fewer of those miscues than Clausen (31), Ainge (35), Kelly (38), Jimmy Streater (30) and yes even Manning (33).

In previous years Dobbs was said to struggle throwing the deep ball but he has silenced those critics this fall. Dobbs has 12 touchdowns passes over 20 yards, which leads the Southeastern Conference and has gotten the football to his playmakers, allowing Josh Malone to be a leading receiver in the SEC in yards per game, yards per catch and touchdown receptions.

The Monday morning quarterbacks point to this season as being one that Dobbs has thrown too many interceptions. A closer look at the touchdown-to-interception ratio reveals Dobbs is even better than the Vol that wore No. 16.

After the 1996 season, Tennessee fans cheered in the streets after Manning's announcement he was returning for his senior year. "The Great One" threw 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions en route to a 10-2 finish and No. 9 Associated Press ranking.

In the Vols' 7-3 start, Dobbs has thrown one more touchdown pass and the same number of interceptions. Add in the rushing totals of 470 yards and seven touchdowns, the argument could easily be made that Dobbs had an even better year than Manning, who finished that year to the chants of "one more year" coming from the Vol faithful. Putting all the individual stats aside, Dobbs' greater legacy can be found in turning the program around in the wins department. Since becoming the full-time starter on Nov. 1, 2014, in Columbia, South Carolina, he has gone 18-8. That's a far cry from the 7-11 before he took over. Dobbs broke a five-game losing streaks to Georgia, an 11-year drought versus Florida and put the Vols in the hunt for an SEC East title. 

As much as the onfield accolades should put Dobbs into football lore for Volunteer fans, they pale in comparison to what he has done representing the University of Tennessee.

"There is a lot of expectations and standards that come along with being the quarterback at the University of Tennessee," Butch Jones said. "He defines what a student-athlete is all about.You look at what he has meant on the field and off to this program and it starts with character. He is a face in the community and giving of his time."

It has been well documented that Dobbs is a true scholar athlete and a person that is active in the community. He has been everything that should be right about college athletics.

"When we first met I really learned how much he loved football," said second-year offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who sat down with Dobbs before being hired to replace Bajakian. "We started a great relationship that day. He exemplifies what you want as a college football player: A great young man, great student and plays the game the way you want it."

When Joshua Dobbs jogs thru that T by his lonesome before the Missouri game for the last time, Tennessee fans need to give that man his due. They need to give a worthy ovation to a man that led this program out of the doldrums, has placed himself statistically into elite company, and most importantly done it in a way that makes everyone know that he is an even better person off the field with a bright future after football.


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