Jun 23

TIP OF THE CAP, DOBBS: Former Tennessee Quarterback Draws Record Crowd, Donates Money To Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County




Maybe it’s because he was a dandy quarterback at the University of Tennessee. Maybe it’s because he’s intelligent enough to earn a degree in Aerospace Engineering in four years, a program of study that normally takes five years.

But the most likely reason Josh Dobbs is so well-liked was probably summed up best by Boys & Girls Club Board President Darius Peedin in his introduction of the guest speaker Thursday night at the annual Champions Dinner: “He’s a real class act.”

Not since the legendary Pat Summitt was guest speaker at the Boys & Girls Club’s Champions Dinner several years ago has a guest speaker drawn as much attention as did Josh Dobbs, as the Christian Activities Center at First Baptist Church was jam-packed with a sell-out crowd to meet and hear the Pittsburgh Steelers draftee.

The Champions Dinner for the Boys & Girls Club is one of the chief fund-raisers every year, and Scott Bullington, executive director of the Club, said being able to obtain Dobbs to speak was a prize.

“I just think everybody likes him,” Bullington said earlier Thursday as Dobbs spent several hours at the club on East Church Street, talking and playing games with the youngsters. “We’ve had more interest in this dinner since we announced our speaker than ever before, with the possible exception of Pat Summitt.”

When Dobbs arrived on Rocky Top from Alpharetta, Ga., as a freshman, the University of Tennessee program was struggling. When he left after his senior year, the program had won 24 games under his leadership at quarterback, including three straight bowl victories. The program was relevant again, something that makes Dobbs happy.

“I’m excited for the future of the University of Tennessee,” he said during an interview when he arrived at the Boys & Girls Club Thursday afternoon. “UT is back on the (football) map. In my freshman year that wasn’t the case. Then we had maybe one ESPN game; now almost every SEC game we played was at 3:30 on CBS. The program is growing. The players are excited, and I’m excited to see what happens in Knoxville.”

Dobbs left his mark on the UT record book when he departed this spring. He finished his career with 86 total touchdowns (53 passing, 31 rushing, 2 receiving), and only Peyton Manning (with 101 total TDs) had more. He holds the school single season touchdown record with 40 , which surpasses Manning’s 39. In his senior year he was named Athlon’s SEC Offensive Player of the Year as both the most productive quarterback and most productive offensive player in the SEC.

While putting up some gaudy numbers in the football record book, Dobbs was earning his degree, and completing his education on The Hill was very important to him.

“When I got home (from Pittsburgh) last night, my diploma had come in the mail,” he grinned. “Actually seeing the paperwork made me very proud. I thought of the long hard days, studying after practice, sometimes after midnight, then going in early the next day for a class. I was very proud that I was able to earn that degree in four years.”

For four straight years, Dobbs was a Football Academic Torchbearer and an SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient, only the seventh football player in UT history to achieve that distinction.

The NFL Draft caused some anxious moments for Dobbs.

“When you are deciding on a college, you have choices,” he said. “But the NFL Draft was different. I was a fan of all 32 teams (during the draft). But sitting at home with a friend and watching the draft, it came time for the Steelers to pick, and I told my friend, ‘I’m waiting for them to call.’ And sure enough, they did.”

Dobbs has been in Pittsburgh at mini-camps and evaluations and has begun the next step in his journey.

“It’s almost like going into your freshman year of college,” he said. “It’s the next step. It’s what you look forward to as a football player. From high school, to college. From college, to the pros. The series of mini-camps during the last few weeks … you get thrown into the fire real quick. But I’m excited for August (and the start of training camp.)”

He said he found a high level of respect among players with the Steelers.

“They will let you know you are a rookie,” he smiled, “but the older guys take you under their wing. More and more rookies are stepping up and playing in their first year, so the older guys want to help you.”

He said he has already learned a lot from veteran Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“He’s obviously a future Hall of Famer,” Dobbs said. “I’ve watched how he approaches practice and team meetings. He’s verbally teaching me things on film, but watching him in practice, and how he handles the line of scrimmage. I’ve got a notebook full of notes from just watching him.”

The most obvious thing to Dobbs when he began practicing with the pros was the skill level all across the field.

“In college every team has a go-to cornerback, and there’s maybe one guy that you think you can make some plays on,” he said. “In the pros they are all good. But on the other hand, on offense it’s the same way. All the receivers are good, maybe No. 1 on their college team. So there’s a quick learning curve.”

Dobbs wants to give back to those who make an effort to be positive influences on the lives of those who might not be as fortunate. That’s why he was in Greeneville Thursday, supporting the local Boys & Girls Club.

“It’s fun to give back,” he said, “and East Tennessee has been very important to me since I’ve been at UT. Taking time to interact with these kids … it’s just the thing to do.”

Before he left the podium at Thursday’s dinner, Dobbs presented Bullington with a $1,500 check, a donation from him to the local Boys & Girls Club.IMG_9208