Tennessee Football: Where Is Joshua Dobbs’s Final Place Among Vols Quarterbacks?

Oct 1, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) is lifted in the air by defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. (24) after throwing the winning touchdown pass on the last play on the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the fourth quarter at Sanford Stadium. Tennessee defeated Georgia 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 1, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) is lifted in the air by defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. (24) after throwing the winning touchdown pass on the last play on the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the fourth quarter at Sanford Stadium. Tennessee defeated Georgia 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Having played his final game for Tennessee football, where does Joshua Dobbs belong among all-time Volunteers quarterbacks?

As he finishes his senior season with one of the most productive years in Tennessee football quarterback history, Joshua Dobbs’s place among Vols quarterbacks is difficult to determine.

Dobbs did not have a Top 10 finish at Tennessee and never won an SEC Eastern Division title or any title for that matter.

But that can’t be a deal breaker.

After all, Heath Shuler never won the SEC East, and Erik Ainge never won the East or had a Top 10 finish.

When we take a look at a quarterback’s place among Tennessee football legends, there are numerous factors that we take into account.

As we take a look at Dobbs’s place among Tennessee football quarterbacks, we have to take everything into consideration.

That includes team success, individual stats, and intangibles. That final point is an underrated one. It includes the transcendent impact a player may have had on Tennessee football.

For instance, Condredge Holloway did not win an SEC title. However, he was the first African American quarterback in the SEC. That counts for a lot.

Peyton Manning became an NFL legend and a beloved Tennessee folk hero. That also counts.

Dobbs has a few impressive intangibles of his own that we need to take a look at.

So we’ll analyze all three things in this post. We will compare them to other elite historical Tennessee football quarterbacks.

Then, we’ll deliver a final verdict with Dobbs’s overall ranking.

Remember that the modern era of Tennessee football really only traces quarterbacks to the 1960s. But the Vols have some legends since then, and Dobbs has to have a spot among all the quarterbacks since then.

Here is a look at Joshua Dobbs’s all-time place among Tennessee football quarterbacks.

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Factor No. 1: Team Success

On this point, there are some very real negatives that unfortunately surround Joshua Dobbs. He never had a 10-win season, he never even won the SEC East, and he never had a Top 20 finish.

As far as accomplishments go in a nutshell, that would put him behind all four starting quarterbacks in the 1990s along with Casey Clausen and Erik Ainge.

He would also fall behind Dewey Warren, Condredge Holloway, Tony Robinson, Daryl Dickey, Bobby Scott, and Jim Maxwell.

However, Dobbs would be ahead of everybody else. That includes Jeff Francis, Jonathan Crompton, Tyler Bray, Alan Cockrell, Steve Alatorre, Jimmy Streater, Randy Wallace.

On top of that, Maxwell only played one year, and Robinson and Dickey are only ahead of him because they split the success of the 1985 season.

So since Dobbs was more consistent and sustained success, we have to move him at the very least to No. 10 on the list when it comes to team success. He finished 23-12 in Knoxville.

Then there’s the factor of what he inherited. When Dobbs took over full-time as the starter midway through his sophomore year, Tennessee football had not been to a bowl game in four years.

He took them to three straight, including back to back Top 25 finishes and nine-win seasons. When you compare it to where they were before he got there, his team success has to move up.

He jumps Heath Shuler and Erik Ainge by that point. So with just team success, Dobbs is officially No. 8 on this list.

Tee Martin, Peyton Manning, Dewey Warren, Andy Kelly, Condredge Holloway, Bobby Scott, and Casey Clausen all have spots ahead of him here.

Sep 19, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) throws a touchdown pass to Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Preston Williams (7) (not pictured) during the first quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) throws a touchdown pass to Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Preston Williams (7) (not pictured) during the first quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Factor No. 2: Individual Stats

Now this is where the fun happens. You obviously have to count individual stats when measuring a quarterback’s greatness, and that puts Joshua Dobbs in a very special category in Knoxville.

Joshua Dobbs is No. 5 all-time in career passing yards and passing touchdowns with 7,138 and 53 respectively. He is tied for No. 5 for most passing touchdowns in a single season with Jonathan Crompton with 27 in 2016.

And he’s No. 9 for most passing yards in a season with 2,946 in 2016.

If we’re using those passing numbers alone and adjusting it for the eras, Dobbs would be fifth all-time behind Peyton Manning (of course), Casey Clausen, Erik Ainge, and Tyler Bray.

But passing stats aren’t the only factor when determining college quarterbacks.

Dobbs’s rushing numbers add a whole new dimension.

For his career, Dobbs is No. 3 all-time in Tennessee football rushing touchdowns with 32. He is in the Top 10 for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 12 in 2016, tying many other people but the only quarterback to be in there.

When you add up his totals, he had the second-most yards ever for a quarterback in a single-season Tennessee football history in 2016 behind just Manning.

He also has the second-most touchdowns with 39, behind Manning’s 40 in 1997.

These stats move him up to No. 2 all-time, just edging out Clausen, who had more total yards but also played more games.

Then you have to make things relative. For instance, when Dewey Warren entered the scene in the 1960s, he shattered every Tennessee football record at the time. Meanwhile, Condredge Holloway was doing the same thing as a dual-threat in the early 1970s. And Bobby Scott did the same following Warren.

However, only Warren made a splash by actually leading the SEC in passing in 1966. Holloway nor Scott ever did that.

Meanwhile Dobbs led the SEC or was in the Top 5 in every statistical category this year, emphasizing his dual-threat abilities.

So from the stats game, Dobbs is the second-best quarterback in Tennessee football history.

Considering that he had six games in his career with five total touchdowns and three more with four, he’s earned this spot.

What about exterior factors? That’s our final point.

Oct 1, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 1, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Factor #3: Intangibles

This is where we take the accomplishments of the first two factors and qualify them while also adding a few things.

For instance, Peyton Manning owns every record in Tennessee football history and won an SEC title. His greatness is even more solidified, though, because he had a Hall-of-Fame NFL career, stayed until his senior season in college when he didn’t have to, and is a favorite son in Knoxville.

Condredge Holloway is the first black quarterback to ever play in the SEC and dealt with a lot at that time. Meanwhile, he was playing for a terrible coach and had a limited supporting cast.

Taking those things into account, it’s clear why those two guys are the two greatest quarterbacks in school history.

Tee Martin won a national championship and stayed and waited his chance. That also makes him beloved. However, he gets knocked down a few notches simply due to the fact that he had a loaded supporting cast when he won that title.

So we take into account intangibles and supporting casts.

When it comes to Joshua Dobbs, he did have a loaded supporting casts. He spent most of his career in Knoxville with multiple 6’3″ four-star and five-star receivers, and he had elite running backs.

However, he was held back by Mike DeBord many times, and all of these guys were young like him. So he had very few veterans to help bring him along as a quarterback.

Meanwhile, Dobbs had to make up for numerous injuries his senior year that were very unfortunate. As a result, his supporting cast is a mixed bag.

It’s not as elite as what Tyler Bray had in 2012, what Tee Martin had in the late 1990s, or even what Andy Kelly and Heath Shuler had. But it definitely surpasses what Condredge Holloway had and what Casey Clausen had.

So we put him in the category with Erik Ainge in this regard.

At the same time, though, Dobbs is a beloved quarterback who showed leadership intangibles that nobody can overlook.

The guy was an aerospace engineering major and consistently rallied his troops throughout the year. He gets a ton of respect for that and is even more beloved as a Vol in the process.

At the same time, on the field, he became famous for leading epic comebacks against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Georgia Bulldogs twice with a Hail Mary in one game, and the Florida Gators this year.

He helped oversee the restoration of Tennessee football to relevance, even if his team success did not meet that of others.

So his respect level is through the roof.

The only people who have it beyond Dobbs are Manning, Holloway, and Martin.

Taking all this into account, Dobbs is in the No. 4 to No. 8 range as a quarterback in school history when it comes to intangibles.

Dec 30, 2016; Nashville , TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) is awarded the Music City Bowl MVP trophy after a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 38-24.Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2016; Nashville , TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) is awarded the Music City Bowl MVP trophy after a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 38-24.Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Final Verdict 

Joshua Dobbs is not going to surpass Peyton Manning or Condredge Holloway on the list of all-time Tennessee football quarterbacks. He just does not have the accomplishments that those guys have.

And he doesn’t have the team accomplishments that Tee Martin, Dewey Warren or Andy Kelly have, which put them in elite categories.

As a result, we have Dobbs tied with Casey Clausen for the No. 6 greatest quarterback of all time in Tennessee football history.

Clausen beats Dobbs in team success, but Dobbs supersedes that because of the level that he improved the program too while in Knoxville. So it’s a wash there.

Their stats are very similar, with Dobbs getting the edge due to his rushing abilities.

In terms of intangibles, Clausen has the edge over Dobbs because of the fact that he had less help his junior and senior years in Knoxville with a cast of very overrated wide receivers.

However, Dobbs is a more beloved quarterback because he did a better job of ingratiating himself with the fans and teammates. Clausen rubbed people the wrong way slightly with his attitude. And while Clausen was clutch, Dobbs takes the cake for being an even more clutch quarterback and a better leader.

So all-in-all, despite no SEC East title and no Top 10 finish, Dobbs’s numbers and his intangibles make him a Top 6 quarterback in Tennessee football history.

And you could make a case of mixing him in with Warren, Martin and Kelly. Those three and Clausen are all in the same tier with Dobbs, while Erik Ainge is close.

But Manning and Holloway remain in leagues of their own.

This article originally appeared on