The former Alpharetta standout stepped into the starting quarterback role as a true freshman at Tennessee last year and never looked back as he quickly established himself as a player to watch in the SEC.
Dobbs played the last five games at quarterback – including the last four as a starter – for a Tennessee team that went 5-7 in 2013. He completed 72-of-121 passes for 695 yards and two touchdowns – compiling a 59.5 percent completion percentage in the process.
“I’ve always trusted in my skills and ability,” Dobbs said. “The coaching staff has done a great job with all the quarterbacks to be able to play when needed. So when my number was called, I was able to perform. I still have some things to work on and, of course, that has been the key focus throughout the spring and into the summer and into training camp.”
Now, after what he said has been a productive offseason, Dobbs is looking forward to the 2014 season as Tennessee’s starting signal-caller.
“The summer has gone well,” Dobbs said. “We’re halfway through [the summer] and we start training camp in a month. So as a team, we’re coming along very well. Personally, it’s going well. I had a good spring. I’ve been able to accomplish some things during the spring. I’ve improved my footwork and I’m understanding the offense better, so things are going well.”
Dobbs’ debut as a college player was a memorable one as he took the field for the first time for Tennessee in the second half of its game on the road against then-No. 1 nationally-ranked team and defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa Oct. 26.
Playing the entire second half, Dobbs held his own against the powerful Crimson Tide as he completed 5-of-12 passes for 75 yards and engineered the first touchdown of the season against Alabama on its home field in the Volunteers’ 45-10 loss.
“It was crazy,” Dobbs said. “It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Of course, playing Alabama – especially at Alabama – is a lifetime opportunity. It’s something I will always cherish. I wish the outcome was a little different, so we’re working to change that for future use.”
Things didn’t get much easier for Dobbs after that as he assumed the starting role in SEC games against 10th-ranked Missouri Nov. 2 and seventh-ranked Auburn Nov. 9.
Dobbs came out firing in his first college start against Missouri, completing 26-of-42 passes for 240 yards – setting new school records for both attempts and completions by a true freshman – in Tennessee’s 31-3 loss.
He came up big again the following week with 16 completions on 28 passes for 128 yards in a 55-23 loss to an Auburn team that would go on to win the SEC championship and lose to Florida State in the BCS championship game.
“It was a great experience,” said Dobbs of his first three games against some of the best teams in both the SEC and the nation. “All three teams were good programs, so it was an experience – especially as a freshman – to see what SEC football was like. You’re always going to play good competition week in and week out in the SEC – you always have to bring your ‘A’ game. There were some things I did well and some things I need to improve on.”
While Dobbs was able to succeed right away on the college level, he said there were still adjustments he had to make to the higher level of competition he encountered in his first season.
“My biggest adjustment was just the time you have to put into football off the field – in the film room and on the chalkboard,” Dobbs said. “Understanding what the other team is doing on defense, the different looks that teams are going to give you – what you like to do about those looks and what you don’t like to do. Just playing the game in your head, so you can naturally walk onto the field and perform and do well.”
With his strong college freshman season, Dobbs continued the run of success that he enjoyed on the high school level at Alpharetta – where he threw for 3,625 yards and 29 touchdowns, while rushing for 419 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2012. As he gets ready for his sophomore season in 2014, Dobbs said he is focused on helping the Volunteers improve on their results of a year ago and contend for a bowl berth.
“My goal is the same as the team goal,” Dobbs said. “Of course, we want to win the SEC East and make a bowl game and then win our bowl game.”