For the last time in his football career, Josh Dobbs was throwing passes to and working out with his teammates from Tennessee. Dobbs worked out in front of numerous NFL scouts at Tennessee’s Pro Day on Friday morning, and it was the last time he will ever don Tennessee orange as a player on UT’s campus.
And he impressed those watching with his skills.
“I had a very efficient day,” Dobbs said of his performance at the Vols’ Pro Day. “I took snaps under center and in the shotgun. I think I was able to show that I can make all the throws on the field whether it’s the short or intermediate balls, and I can also make the deep throws.
“At the end of the day, we might be in the (shotgun) 95% of the time (at Tennessee), but it’s the same schemes, the same progression, the same concepts, the same reads. Being able to make that transition will be seamless for me, and I’ve been able to see that throughout the process. I’ve redefined myself even more as a competitor than I already was. I already had a competitive spirit, but every time I step on the field I just want to compete and show I’m the best.”
Dobbs’ draft stock has slowly risen since he played his last game as a Vol in the Music City Bowl. Thanks to his performances at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and now UT’s Pro Day, Dobbs feels as though his NFL prospects are finally where they should be.
“I don’t need validation,” Dobbs stated. “It’s about time, honestly, but I don’t need validation. People are entitled to their own opinions, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. It was a lot of fun to come out here and compete, though.
“The buzz is definitely growing. A lot of coaches have come in and had a lot of different meetings, different visits, and I have a lot of different future visits set up as well. I’m excited. I’m really excited about the process. It’s been a grind of course, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Dobbs was precise and on target on almost all of the 50-plus passes he threw to close out his workout, and he finished by connecting with fellow former Vol Josh Malone on a 50-yard bomb with his last throw of the afternoon. And that was the exclamation point on what was already an impressive day for Dobbs.
“You want to end Pro Day with a bang,” Dobbs said of his last completion to Malone. “You want to complete all your passes obviously, but you want to go out with a bang.”
Bob Welton, Tennessee’s director of player personnel, was on record saying Dobbs’ workout was “the best quarterback workout he had ever seen.” Head football coach Butch Jones was just as impressed by Dobbs and the rest of the Vols in attendance.
“(The players) went through workouts together with the skill players led by Josh Dobbs,” Jones stated. “It was really remarkable. As a coach, it’s exciting to see that, the way they interacted with each other, the way they executed, and the way they embraced the moment. Because it can be an intimidating environment when you have over 89-plus representatives from the NFL here. But they embraced it.”
For Jones, it was the last time he would see this group of players on campus together as teammates. And he likened it to the bittersweet moment of a parent saying goodbye to a child heading away from home to college.
“It’s kind of like a parent sending their child away to college for the first time,” Jones stated. “Not just Josh, but all these players. They’ve meant so much to our program. A lot of these individuals were part of our first incoming recruiting class. Today is kind of the conclusion for them.
“As (Pittsburgh Steelers head coach) Mike Tomlin said, it’s kind of the end because today they’re teammates one more time then they go their separate ways, and they’ll be on separate teams competing against each other.”
That journey from being part of Jones’ first recruiting class as Tennessee’s head coach to where he is now isn’t lost on Dobbs either.
“I remember coming in my first year and going 5-7 and then losing our entire staring offensive line heading into 2014,” Dobbs said. “People thought we might not win an SEC game. People were doubting us. We were able to come together as a team and put together the bowl game season that year and then we were able to grow.
“Tennessee and the program has grown a lot, and it’s been put back where it was long ago. I’m excited to see where the program goes.”
Dobbs, much like the Tennessee football program itself, has made strides over the last four years. Dobbs went from a scrawny freshman who threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his first handful of starts to leading the SEC in touchdown passes as a senior and shattering the Vols’ all-time rushing marks by a quarterback.
And in his last day as a Vol, Dobbs went out with a bang.