Josh Dobbs' wild 24 hours -- engineering school graduation, first Steelers practice

PITTSBURGH -- Catch Josh Dobbs if you can.

The rookie quarterback is trying to pull off one impressive day with a multistate merge of football and academics.

Dobbs, the Pittsburgh Steelers' fourth-round pick, will spend Thursday accepting his aerospace engineering degree at the University of Tennessee's Tickle College of Engineering undergraduate commencement.

After celebrating with family and friends, Dobbs will head to the Knoxville, Tennessee, regional airport for an evening flight to Pittsburgh that arrives around midnight, according to a Dobbs rep.

About 10 hours after that, he'll be throwing his first passes as a Steeler, as part of rookie minicamp that kicks off at 10:25 a.m. on Friday.

"A dream come true," Dobbs said.

On Thursday, Dobbs' family will get going around 10 a.m. for brunch. Dobbs will have his suitcase packed and in the car before he leaves his apartment. Then, it's time to get in line for the ceremony, which features a guest speaker Dobbs is eager to hear: Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney's military engines division.

Dobbs was an intern for the U.S. government during college and worked specifically on F-135 engines.

Sleep will be optional for Dobbs, who handled a demanding academic workload while compiling 9,000-plus total yards and 85 total touchdowns as Tennessee's starter for three-plus seasons.

Dobbs savors this week because of the mental toughness it took to get here, the long hours balancing film and class sessions. Attacking both areas requires the same mindset, Dobbs said -- "the constant trying to find every detail that is going to give you a good, competitive edge."

"I've worked long and hard to build a legacy at Tennessee, both on and off the field and in the surrounding community," Dobbs said. "So I'm very thankful to graduate with my degree in four years and also having a great career on the field and we been an impact in the community. Now I'm excited to see what's next in Pittsburgh in my NFL career."

Some Steelers players and coaches are already joking that they'll ask Dobbs more about fighter jet mechanics than football during the season. Dobbs called his internship a chance "to branch out and learn about the aerospace industry and the most technologically advanced engine every created, to this day."

Growing up near Atlanta, Dobbs developed an affinity for planes while watching them leave the tarmac at the nearby airport.

Now that the class work is over and Dobbs is all football for now, his career might not take off just yet. He's playing behind Ben Roethlisberger.

The way Dobbs sees it, that's where the real fun begins -- whenever he arrives at Pittsburgh International Airport.

"I'm just trying to be the best I can be each and every day, show up and work, learn as much as I can from a future Hall of Famer," Dobbs said. "It's definitely an amazing opportunity. Each day I am working and preparing like I am the starter, but also treating it as a learning opportunity, so that whenever my number is called, I am ready to go, ready to play."