That No. 12, however, was rising redshirt junior Nathan Peterman. A lot has changed since then. Peterman transferred to Pittsburgh, reuniting with former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, and a new No. 12 is making a move in one of the most-anticipated battles of spring practice.
True freshman and early enrollee Quinten Dormady has been one of the newcomers standing out this spring, and the 6-foot-4, 213-pound native of Boerne, Tex., has caught head coach Butch Jones’ eye.
“I see him making tremendous progress each and everyday,” said Jones. “As a coach we have to keep in perspective that he should still be in high school, but I have been very, very encouraged with him.”
Dormady is competing with fellow newcomer Jauan Jennings for the No. 2 spot behind Dobbs. They’ll be joined by fellow four-star prospect Sheriron Jones this summer, making the contest even more interesting, but for now, at least in our viewing time in practice, it seems to be Dormady who is standing out and looking like the most game-ready backup for the time being.
And while Jennings has flashed a lot of potential as well, Dormady has some natural advantages. He’s more of a lifer quarterback who grew up the son of a high school coach. He’s ahead in terms of overall physical size, he’s an older true freshman at 19 years old and he ran an offense very similar to UT’s at the end of his high school career. Butch Jones has noted that he’s ahead of Jennings in terms of some of the mechanics and finer details of playing the position this spring.
There still are adjustments to be made, however.
“Obviously the speed of the game is a lot faster,” Dormady said. “Like I said, getting in the playbook all the time. You have to go to class, be able to separate that and come here and flip the switch. I’m still trying to figure that out right now.”
And that’s where having a mentor like Dobbs will be an asset to Dormady and all of the quarterbacks throughout the offense. It’s a slightly different dynamic in the quarterback room this offseason than has been the case over the past few season. There’s a clear-cut No. 1, a leader, a “CEO” quarterback as Jones likes to say. That allows Dobbs to work in more of a leadership role to help UT find his backup and develop the position for years to come.
“He is extremely smart,” Dormady said of Dobbs. “He has been in the system. He has an arm. He has feet. He is the whole package. Like I said I’m just trying to learn from him. Obviously he has had SEC reps, starts and that kind of thing and succeeded. I’m just trying to take everything I can from him.”
A lot has changed at UT since Dormady originally committed in June of 2014. Peterman is gone. Dobbs has become that clear starter. But he’s happy with his role right now – competing for the No. 2 spot, but also pushing Dobbs where he can and hoping that opportunities come his way.
“I mean, I think as a quarterback and as anybody at the collegiate level, you want to go out and compete,” he said. “Obviously Josh is the starter and I think I’m trying to push him and make him better, and he’s pushing me and he’s helping me out a lot.”
He’s not the runner Dobbs, Jennings or even Jones might be, but he wasn’t afraid to pull it down and pick up yardage or extend a play in high school. He’s a bit more athletic than many think – it’s not as simple as labeling him the drop-back quarterback and Jennings the scrambler.
Butch Jones has said time and time again that there isn’t just one style of quarterback that works in his system. Dormady might be more pass-first, but his big arm, and his ability to extend plays with his feet, still makes him a good fit for what Jones wants to do on offense.
“I’m not going to take off and run every play,” he said. “I’m just going to try to extend plays when I need to and get the ball out to the playmakers. I like to throw from the pocket and extend when I need to.”