The Tennessee Volunteers football team began spring practice Tuesday afternoon, and the number one question for Vols fans is, “Who will the starting quarterback be this fall?” After senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs was lost to graduation, Vols’ head coach Butch Jones and new offensive coordinator Larry Scott are tasked with the job of distinguishing who QB1 will be when the Vols open the season against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Jarrett Guarantano enters his redshirt freshman season as one of the most highly-touted quarterback prospects to ever join the Vols. Guarantano is a strong-armed, 6-foot-4-inch, 205-pound athlete. Guarantano was ranked as a 4-star prospect by 247sports.com and the 4th overall dual-threat quarterback in the nation. Guarantano played quarterback in high school for Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey. His father, James, played at Rutgers as a wide receiver from 1989-92, where he set the school record for receptions in a career. During his high school career, Guarantano threw for 3,028 yards and 28 touchdowns. Guarantano also rushed for 523 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Some of college football’s most respected have praised Guarantano. QB guru George Whitfield Jr., who trained Guarantano over spring break, tweeted his support for the young gunslinger by saying, “Coolest surprise this week? Vols QB Jarrett Guarantano! Possessed a maturity respected by the vets. Arm talent is peerless. Loves his Vols!” Former Vols cornerback Cam Sutton also praised the QB by saying “He’s not a guy who’s scared to be out of his comfort zone. He comes to the defensive side of the ball, and he wants to learn. I picked up a lot of things talking to him, and we bounced some ideas off each other, just to help his game overall.”
Jarrett Guarantano has a high confidence level himself. Guarantano told the media, when asked about the high expectations at Tennessee, that, “Every step is watched, I go to class, I’m being watched, I’m on Twitter, I’m being watched… But that’s what comes with the job. That’s what comes with being the quarterback to a big university – a university that’s soon to be the SEC Champions, and it’s going to be crazier in the future.”
Guarantano, a fan-favorite, would be the logical choice to start at quarterback. The Tennessee offense is built for a dual-threat quarterback, and the transition from a scrambler like Josh Dobbs would be much easier for a dual-threat quarterback. The Tennessee offensive line would also benefit from a mobile QB like Guarantano. The o-line is experienced with a dual-threat, compared to a pocket passer like Quinten Dormady (more on Dormady in a moment). With as much hype that has surrounded Jarrett Guarantano, it would be hard to imagine Butch Jones and Larry Scott deciding on anyone but Jarrett Guarantano. The redshirt year of experience doesn’t hurt Guarantano’s case for starting QB either.
There is a large amount of support for Jarrett Guarantano, but another logical case could be made for Quinten Dormady to be the starting quarterback. Dormady is a junior at Tennessee, standing at 6-foot-4 inches, and 216 pounds. The pocket passer was ranked as a 4-star prospect coming out of high school, and the 5th best pro-style quarterback in the nation per 247sports.com. Dormady played high school football at Boerne High School in Boerne, Texas where his father, Mike, was the head coach.
Dormady has the most college experience of any of the quarterbacks vying for the starting position. He appeared late in games during the 2015 and 2016 seasons for the Vols. Altogether, Dormady has completed 24 of 39 passes, for 357 yards, and 1 touchdown. Dormady has also rushed for 8 yards on 11 attempts during his short college career. If head coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Larry Scott should choose experience over raw talent, then Quinten Dormady would be the logical choice for starting quarterback.
Outside chances to start:
Sheriron Jones, Zac Jancek, Will McBride
Sheriron Jones would have the best outside chance to get the starting job, Jones is a redshirt sophomore with only 1 pass attempt during his time at Tennessee. Jones was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school, and the 7th overall dual-threat quarterback in the country per 247sports.com. Jones has an uphill climb for the starting job, competing with Guarantano and Dormady. But give him credit, Jones is a passionate competitor, as exhibited during his sideline pep talk during the Battle at Bristol last year.
Zac Jancek and Will McBride are great quarterbacks, but the bottom line is they have no experience. McBride just enrolled in January, and Jancek has never attempted a pass in two years at Tennessee. Neither of them are likely to get the starting job.
At the end of the day, Tennessee is in good hands at the quarterback position. Either Jarrett Guarantano or Quinten Dormady are great choices for QB1 when the ball is kicked off this fall against Georgia Tech.