July 7, 2014
FanIQ.com recently caught up with Vols sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs to discuss his rigorous academic schedule, growth as a quarterback, and what it was like to take his first college snap against Alabama.
Here's the full story It's no secret that the Tennessee Volunteers have high hopes entering the 2014 college football season.
Head coach Butch Jones has constructed an outstanding roster filled with promising newcomers and talented returners across the board.
But as is always the case in the game of football, the most important position on the field will be at quarterback as the Vols look to find the man that can lead them back to a bowl game for the first time since 2010.
Sophomore Josh Dobbs has the chance to be that quarterback after gaining valuable experience during his freshman season. Dobbs played extremely well in the Orange and White game this spring as he continues to compete for the starting job.
We recently caught up with Dobbs to discuss his rigorous academic schedule, growth as a quarterback, and what it was like to take his first college snap against Alabama.
1. First off, since you're a student first and athlete second, tell us what made you major in aerospace engineering?
Dobbs:Yes, academics are very important to me. However, a better way to put it is that I am committed to both. My parents have always stressed the importance of doing well in school. So, I understand the tremendous opportunities that education provides. I work hard to be the best I can be in both the classroom and on the field. Regarding my major, I decided to study aerospace engineering because I have always had a fascination with airplanes and enjoy studying math and physics. After visiting Kennedy Space Center in Florida while in elementary school and participating in the Atlanta OBAP (Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals) and Tuskegee Airmen ACE Academy while in middle school, I knew I wanted to design airplanes. I hope to one day run my own company building them.
2. Do you think that such a demanding major has had any negative effect on your day-to-day football activities?
Dobbs:No, I do not think that my daily football activities are negatively affected by the demands of my major. Obviously both responsibilities are tough and both require mental toughness. But I've always had a rigorous academic schedule while juggling multiple extra-curriculum activities, going back to my years in elementary school. So, being challenged in the classroom and preparing for competitive athletics has been a way of life for me. I learned early on the importance of developing a plan and working to efficiently manage my time. The academic rigor has actually helped my approach toward managing the challenges on the field and my overall mental conditioning. You have to be willing to work to be good at either.
3. Most players would probably prefer to ease into their first college game against an inferior opponent, but you saw your first action as a Vol against defending champion Alabama. What was that experience like?
Dobbs:You are right, taking my first collegiate snaps on the road against the defending national champions isn't the most ideal situation as a freshman; but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Coach Jones stresses that we all have to prepare every day as if we are the starter. Every rep, both physical and mental, is important. So, leading up to that game I stayed focused and worked hard to be prepared whenever my number was called. While I do wish the final outcome of the game had been in our favor, I did enjoyed every second of the opportunity. It felt good to help the team to score the most points on their field of any of their opponents at that point in the season.
4. What would you say is the biggest thing that you learned in those final five games last year?
Dobbs:The biggest thing I learned during last year's games is the importance of being prepared and developing chemistry with my teammates. We had to fight through adversity in our first season in a new system; but, we played with a "snap and clear" mentality and were able finish the season with our first SEC win on the road in years. The opportunity to see and feel the speed of the game was also invaluable. Looking back at game film, I have been able to identify opportunity in my progressions, footwork in the pocket, and release that will definitely make me better this season.
5. Talk a little about what this off-season has been like for you. You're competing for the starting quarterback spot once again, so in what areas would you say that your game has progressed the most since the end of last season?
Dobbs:The offseason has been extremely productive because there is competition at every position on the team, not just at QB. As Coach Jones says, every day you have to come ready to work. So I've been working hard in the weight room to bulk up. I have added about 15 pounds of muscle this spring and have gotten stronger. I spend a good bit of time in the film room analyzing tape and identifying opportunities from last season, our spring practices, and upcoming opponents which is going to pay big dividends this fall. I also take every opportunity, on campus and off, to work on refining my mechanics and footwork and to throw with our receivers on timing drills. It is also extremely beneficial that Coach Jones and Coach Mike Bajakian setup opportunities for us to get firsthand critics and suggestions from resources likes Coach Jon Gruden, Peyton Manning, and Jason Witten.
6. Tennessee's highly-touted 2014 recruiting class has been talked about a lot over the past few months. What has it been like working with some of the new guys thus far?
Dobbs:It has been great working out and getting to know this year's talented group of freshmen. These guys are an important part of building depth for our team. They know that they will have an opportunity to play early and they have been working really hard since they stepped on campus. Beyond the physicality and speed that was added on defense, it's nice to get additional offensive weapons like Adrian Gamble, Josh Malone, Von Pearson, Vic Wharton at receiver, Jalen Hurd, Treyvon Paulk, and Derrell Scott at running back, and Dontavius Blair, Ray Raulerson, and Coleman Thomas, protecting up front. My "little Vol brother" Daniel Helm and Ethan Wolf are also huge targets and great additions at tight end. Coach Lawson and his strength staff have done a great job challenging all of us and especially getting the new players ready to play this year.
7. Now that you've transitioned into your sophomore year, what's the biggest piece of advice you would give to an incoming freshman just starting out in power conference college football?
Dobbs:I would share three tips with an incoming freshman. First, playing college football, especially in the SEC, requires a relentless commitment to put in the work to improve your skills; so, you have to be willing to challenge yourself everyday to get better. This means spending a lot of time doing the `lonely work' - the work you do when there is no one around to motivate you but yourself. You have to be persistence and patience because it often becomes the boring work that you have to keep doing over and over and over to improve the little things. Second, don't get frustrated or distracted; but focus on taking care of the things that you can control and the rest will take care of itself. And third, never under estimate the power of prayer.