2. Josh Dobbs, QB
The face of Tennessee football of this past decade is none other than Josh Dobbs. There were more overall physically gifted players than Dobbs who played for UT this decade, and few had the skill set, intelligence, and toughness that Dobbs possessed. And he was the perfect poster boy for Tennessee football in his four years on campus, particularly his final two years as the full-time starter.
Dobbs was forced into action as a true freshman because of injuries to literally every other scholarship quarterback on the roster, and he initially struggled being thrown to the wolves against Alabama then a stout Missouri defense in his first official start. But when he was handed the reins of the offense again in 2014, he put a vice grip on them and never let go for the rest of his UT career.
Tennessee again had to turn to Dobbs after injuries and the ineffective play of Nathan Peterman against Alabama in 2014, and Dobbs earned his first start of the season the following week on the road against South Carolina. The result? Dobbs bursting onto the scene with 301 passing yards, 166 rushing yards, and five total touchdowns in a comeback victory over the Gamecocks in overtime.
From that point on, Dobbs was the unquestioned starter at QB for the Vols, and he put up some eye-popping numbers in the process. Tennessee didn’t experience the level of team success fans hoped for in Dobbs’ time as quarterback, but that wasn’t usually because of Dobbs’ play; instead, coaching, injuries, and poor defense were often the Vols’ downfall from 2014-16.
Dobbs, who famously majored in aerospace engineering, finished his UT career with a record of 23-12 as a starting quarterback, tying Condredge Holloway (1972-74) for the fifth-most wins by a starting quarterback in school history. Dobbs owns every single significant school record for rushing yards by a quarterback, setting the program marks for career rushing yards (2,160), career rushing touchdowns (32), single-season rushing yards (831 in 2016), and single-season rushing touchdowns (12 in 2016). Dobbs’ 32 career rushing touchdowns actually rank third all-time in school history regardless of position, and he’s one of only 16 Vols ever to run for 2,000 yards in a career.
But Dobbs wasn’t just a one-trick pony; he improved as a passer each and every season, and by his senior year, he was one of the better passers in recent UT history.
Dobbs threw for nearly 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions as a senior, giving him 7,138 passing yards in his UT career. Only four other Vols (Peyton Manning, Casey Clausen, Erik Ainge, and Tyler Bray) have more passing yards in school history. Dobbs’ 9,360 yards of total offense rank third in program history behind only Peyton Manning (11,020) and Casey Clasen (9,577).
By the time of his graduation, Dobbs was one of only three SEC quarterbacks ever to record 15 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons. The only other SEC QBs to do so were Florida’s Tim Tebow and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott.
Dobbs was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year by Athlon Sports for his 2016 season, and he was a Second Team All-SEC selection.
Dobbs never missed a start and was one of the toughest players during this era of Tennessee football. He would take hits on sacks or hits down the field on runs that looked like they should sideline him, but Dobbs always got right back up and played. Couple that with his competitiveness, and there hasn’t been another player like Dobbs in recent Tennessee history.
You’ll struggle to find a Vol football player who defines this past decade more than Dobbs, but he wasn’t the top player who donned the Power T over the last 10 years. That honor belongs to…