When Tyler Bray left Tennessee a year early for the NFL draft, he also left the Vols with just two scholarship quarterbacks on the current roster.
So new coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian set about adding a second quarterback to their 2013 signing class.
The Vols already had Riley Ferguson, a longtime commitment from North Carolina who had impressed former coordinator Jim Chaney. The second target was a lanky, four-star prospect from suburban Atlanta who planned on going to Arizona State.
How did the Vols land Joshua Dobbs in the final days of the 2013 recruiting season?
"Persistence," Jones said.
UT wanted Dobbs badly. Coaches spent three hours at his home, convincing him to take an official visit. During the visit, they rolled out the red carpet, arranged for members of the engineering department to speak to him about his preferred major and talked enough football to convince Dobbs and his parents that Tennessee was the right fit.
"Our offense fits his skill set," Jones said.
Coaches said the same thing about Ferguson, but the arrival of two freshmen quarterbacks — one largely recruited by the old staff, and one recruited entirely by a new staff and its new offense — will create an interesting dynamic this summer.
Although the Vols made no secret of their pursuit of Dobbs, Ferguson said in an interview with WNML Wednesday that he didn't know UT had signed a second quarterback.
"There's competition everywhere, so just go in and work to get the job," Ferguson said.
Tennessee's two other quarterbacks — junior
Justin Worley and redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman — were already expected to battle for the starting job this year. Jones said the two freshmen will get a chance to compete, as well.
"I tell all of the individuals that I want them coming in with the mentality that they are going to play. I think that is extremely healthy," Jones said. "We never promise anybody playing time. What we do promise them is the opportunity to compete."
Christian Academy of Knoxville quarterback Charlie High will be a preferred walk-on.
Jones said Ferguson's competitive fire was what he liked the most after he watched his film.
"We went back and watched everything," Jones said. "I love everything he's about. I believe he's only lost one football game in his career as a starting quarterback. We went and watched him practice basketball; he's extremely competitive. We're excited about him."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.