The 2017 NFL Draft is set for Thursday, April 27th through Saturday, April 29th. As the stars of the college game get ready to find out where they will begin their NFL journey, CBS Local Sports’ “My Life As” series will give them an opportunity to talk about how they got to this point and what they expect from the future in their own words.
Today, we hear from Joshua Dobbs, a four year starter at quarterback for the University of Tennessee. Dobbs led the SEC in passing touchdowns (26) and total touchdowns (39) in 2016 as he led the Volunteers to a 9-4 record and a win over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. In addition to being a starting QB for four seasons at Tennessee, Dobbs majored in aerospace engineering.
I started playing football when I was five. It was funny, my mom signed me up, she was always trying to sign me up for sports but she kept missing the day to sign up. So, she called the local league and asked “What’s the next sport you’ll have?” and the lady said “Football”. So my mom was like “okay sign him up for football.” For my mom, I was the only child so she had never been through the process before so she was thinking since I was 5 that I would be playing touch football or flag football or whatever.
The lady tells her where to show up for practice in order to get equipment and everything. We show up for practice and, they’re handing out helmets, shoulder pads, pants and everything, so we’re little kids five years old playing tackle football. My first year, we went out and won the championship and that’s how my football career got started.
Once I started playing football, it took a full year before I started playing quarterback. The reason I was picked to play QB is because I was an extremely athletic kid and the coach asked if I wanted to play quarterback. I said “I’d love to,” and I’ve been playing quarterback ever since.
The reason I picked Tennessee was twofold. There, I had the opportunity to play in a tradition-rich program, while also pursuing the major that I wanted to in engineering. On top of that, when I visited the campus, it really just felt like home. Knoxville was also just about three hours up the road from my home near Atlanta, so that all played a big factor in why I chose to go to Tennessee and I definitely made the right decision.
The four years that I spent at Tennessee are definitely the four favorite years of my life thus far. It was a lot of fun. I was able to grow a lot both on and off the field, in the class room and as a person. The platform that Tennessee has given me to be the quarterback of a program that has had a lot of great players that have come before me and also the platform to be able to reach out and impact the community around me as well in a positive way. It was everything that I could have asked for in a college experience.
Since football season ended, I headed down to IMG in Florida to train. It was great being down there and on a consistent schedule. Every day I’d wake up, eat breakfast, get treatment, get some on the field work in then do some class room work before lunch. Afterwards we’d get a lift in, go back for treatment, eat dinner and then go to sleep.
On top of that, I’ve been managing my last six classes that I need in engineering in order to graduate in May. So, I was actually traveling between IMG and Knoxville in order to train while putting my best foot forward and getting the best training possible and also being able to finish out my last six classes. It’s been a whirlwind for sure, but I’ve learned a lot through the process.
Majoring in aerospace engineering while juggling the responsibilities of being the starting quarterback has been a process to say the least, just learning to focus on one task at a time and compartmentalize your day. My schedule was something like: you wake up and go to class from 9-12, then you go to football then you have football from 1-8, and then you have homework where you go to the library after that before going to sleep.
I learned a lot of good habits from this about compartmentalizing and using every minute during the course of the day that I’ll be able to use moving forward in my preparation to be a successful QB in the NFL.
The same skills that you have to use in order to be successful in the classroom are the skills that you have to use in order to be successful at the QB position. Being detail-oriented in your preparation and being ahead of the game because you’re looking for any slight tip that’s going to give you an advantage on game day.
I was blessed to be invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and the combine experience was wild to say the least. You look back on it and throughout the week, the five days that I was there I think I got a total of 16 hours of sleep. I got eight hours of sleep the first day I got there because I got there a day early, but, over the next four days I got eight hours of sleep total. It was definitely an interesting process from that perspective, but I 100% enjoyed it.
The most common question I got, and I think this goes for all teams with any quarterback is what value are you going to bring to the team and what is your leadership style and what type of person are you?
At the end of the day the quarterback is the face of the organization. At Tennessee we talked about the quarterback being a CEO quarterback, it’s about learning that a lot comes with the territory and how you approach each day, your interactions with your teammates and your knowledge of course of the playbook.
Then, in your play in practice and on game days, being consistent in your performance. Finally, understanding the platform that you have and how to use it. So, of course, team’s are just trying to understand me and the impact that I’ll have on their team.
When you look at the NFL, the most successful quarterbacks are successful in their fundamentals. Each drop is the same, each throw is the same, and that’s why they’re so successful because they’re very consistent. For me, it’s about continuing to get more reps so that I can become more consistent in my fundamentals.
Training has been great because I’ve been able to live the life where you wake up, and it’s just all football.
My biggest strengths are being able to make every throw, my footwork, arm strength and also having the ability to create with my legs when things break down. I’ve won throughout my college career (23-14 in 37 starts) and, at the same time, I’ve seen adversity, I’ve been through the highs and lows of a season so I understand how to approach each day with a consistent, level-headed mindset.
On top of the on the field strengths, I’ve also been the face of an organization where it’s an amazing platform and everyone knows who you are. Being smart and understanding that a lot comes with that territory and platform.
To whatever team brings me in at the next level, know this. You’re getting the most consistent competitor that they’ve seen. Each day, I’m going to come in and treat the opportunity professionally as a job and at the end of the day I want to win. I want to impact my teammates, get to know them, and get the most out of them so that we can play at a high level every Sunday.
Off the field, the goal is to be a great role model and be able to use the platform that I’ll be able to have to impact the community around me in a positive way.