Josh Dobbs will not be the starter in 2017. That’s pretty much all we know about the Tennessee quarterback position heading into spring practice, which begins March 21.
Dobbs had held a tight grip on the starting position since October 2014. But with the former aerospace engineering major embarking on an NFL (or NASA) career, Tennessee will need to find his replacement.
Many expect Quinten Dormady, Dobbs’ backup the past two seasons, to take the reins of the offense. Others anticipate former four-star prospect Jarrett Guarantano to win the starting job after redshirting in 2016.
But at this point, it’s all speculation. Neither has enough in-game experience to warrant an advantage. Sure, Dormady (above) has been enrolled for an additional year and made sporadic appearances, but only during garbage time to hand off the football or in spring games. He is 24-of-39 for 357 yards and one touchdown in two seasons.
Guarantano, on the other hand, is a name that excites Tennessee fans and could provide a spark to its offense. The New Jersey native was the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback and the No. 77 overall prospect in the 2016 recruiting class.
Many Vols fans have wanted to see Guarantano on the field and may not have to wait too much longer. The idea of a redshirt freshman (or true freshman) taking over an offense is no longer an unlikely occurrence after the recent success of players such as Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold, Jake Browning, J.T. Barrett and Jalen Hurts.
That’s not to say Guarantano will find similar success in his first season. But it’s not impossible, especially given his blue-chip athletic potential.
It seems both will enter the quarterback battle with even odds. Dormady may be the favorite to start the season, but it’s likely Guarantano will be under center by end of the year.
If Tennessee goes through another tumultuous season, the redshirt freshman may be a necessity for Butch Jones’ job security.
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