NFL QB draft prospect Joshua Dobbs talks drones, virtual reality, aviation
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Since a seventh grade school trip to the Kennedy Space Center, former University of Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs has been fascinated with aviation. His first airplane ride happened at six months old, and he has always had an “engineer’s mindset.”
For the future NFL quarterback, his curiosity with the field eventually solidified his plans to major in aerospace engineering and minor in business, with possible plans of running his own company one day.
As he continues to prepare for next month’s NFL draft, the Alpharetta, Ga. native recently discussed with SportTechie his technology interests like utilizing drones for training, watching film in virtual reality and his passion for science.
For the past two summers, Dobbs interned with Pratt & Whitney, a designer and manufacturer of turbo engines. In 2015, he headed to the company’s West Palm Beach Engine Center, where he worked on the F135 engine program followed by last summer in Montreal. Dobbs spent the entire month of May in Canada working in the company’s Development Tools Department.
“I was experiencing the full gamut of how a department works, from initial design to putting an engine in a plane to fly commercially,” said Dobbs, who added that one day he’d be shadowing the head of the department while another day he’d learn from the test engineer for a specific engine or be on the assembly line.
Added Dobbs about his time in Montreal: “I felt like I was living the life. I had a studio apartment that was on the 35th floor in the middle of Montreal. I could walk anywhere in the city…I got to go to work every day and be around something I really enjoyed. At the end of the month, I really didn’t want to come back.”
The 22-year-old’s fascination with science, math and engineering led him down the path to drones as well, specifically for how he could incorporate them into his training and practice regime.
During some recent pre-Combine sessions at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Dobbs integrated his DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone into his workout, setting it to hover mode in order for him to self-evaluate his footwork, ball placement, drops and overall throwing motion.
“It helps you improve and perfect your craft as well,” Dobbs said about the drone usage, which is ideal when he doesn’t have a video coordinator to film a session.
“You’re out there on a field putting in those lonely hours, you can see what you’re doing and make those improvements.”
At IMG, Dobbs said he was introduced to Motus Global for the first time, too. It’s a wearable and data technology company and with motusQB — a specific app that works in tandem with Motus’ 3D sensor and compression sleeve—quarterbacks like Dobbs can monitor workloads on their throwing arm.
He’s also a fan of the Dynavision boards, which are reaction training devices that can help athletes activate their sensory motors.
During his four-year tenure in Knoxville, Tenn. Dobbs even dabbled with virtual reality for game preparation as each quarterback had a personalized VR smartphone where they could receive those extra mental reps, anytime, anywhere.
He explained that Sports Technology Coordinator Joe Harrington created his own VR program without additional assistance from companies like STRIVR Labs.
“He is leading the charge in the technology world,” Dobbs said of Harrington.
When he isn’t on the football field, Dobbs can be found tinkering with his F4U Corsair model airplane, similar to one used in WWII, along with a new gadget, a Parrot virtual reality drone.
Still, he’s keeping an eye on what’s next from a training standpoint.
“Sports technology is a growing field, and I’m always looking at what next’s to gain an edge on the competition,” he said.