The second year in the Butch Jones era with the Tennessee Volunteers is expected to see a big youth movement–especially on offense– with a number of underclassmen playing significant roles for a team looking to get back to a bowl game.
After the Vols Orange and White game on Saturday the 68,000 fans in Neyland Stadium were offered a glimpse of the future that is as bright as the orange in the Vols uniforms on Saturday with quarterback Josh Dobbs and wide receivers Marquez North and Jose Malone among the headliners.
After being thrown in to the fire as a true freshman a season ago, Dobbs appears to be much more relaxed and comfortable with the speed of the game after the Tennessee passing offense was virtually non-existent a season ago.
While there will still be growing pains and hurdles for Dobbs, he will have a great deal of help which he didn’t really have last year outside of North who was also a true freshman last season. In addition to North who led the team in receiving last year, Dobbs will have 2013 four-star recruit Jason Croom, the nation’s No. 2 rated JUCO receiver in Von Pearson and five-star recruit Josh Malone at his disposal.
The talent Tennessee has on the perimeter will give credence to the “wide receiver u” reputation that the Vols boast, but it’s hard to be a dominant wide receiver unless you have a competent quarterback feeding you the ball accurately and timely.
Helping Dobbs in the accuracy department will be the massive catching radius of the aforementioned four receivers who all stand at least 6-3, led by the 6-5, 232-pound Croom who redshirted last season.
“It’s amazing and honestly a quarterback’s best friend,” quarterback Josh Dobbs tells the Times Free Press. “You have people like Marquez, Josh Malone and Jason Croom. You’re able to throw it up with them and know they will be able to come down with it. It is huge for us, especially when we get in the red zone.”
Tennessee has been on a mission on the recruiting trail since Jones took over for the over-matched Derek Dooley and now that they have some nice new toys to play with, the next step is turning their potential into production and wins.
There will be some bumbs in the road, but once Dobbs and company hit their stride, it should be a smooth ride back to a bowl and closer to the top of the SEC east standings.