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Opinion: Dormady’s On-Field Statement Means More Than Jones’ Comments

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Butch Jones was predictably noncommittal about the quarterback competition as the Vols finished up spring practice on Saturday with a weather-shortened Orange and White Game in front of an announced crowd of 35,000 in Neyland Stadium that was forced to head for the exits at halftime.

With very little to gain from naming a starter, or even a leader, in the quarterback battle at this point of the year, Jones kept everything wide open in his comments following the spring game.

“No, the great thing is that every day you get the opportunity to better yourself,” Jones said when asked if any quarterback leaves the spring with an edge in the competition to replace Joshua Dobbs. “I feel comfortable with all of our quarterbacks. I thought they progressed exceptionally well. They just need to continue to do that and compete on a daily basis and not worry about anything else. They don’t need to let clutter or distractions get in the way. They’ll be just fine.”

But on the field, rising junior quarterback Quinten Dormady made a statement of his own.

Dormady was perfect on the day – 10-for-10 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. His passes were on the money and his command of the offense was noticeable as he made just about every throw you could ask for in his limited opportunities. He showed poise as he spread the ball around to receivers, backs and tight ends. He threw from the pocket, he threw on the run and moved the offense with ease at times.

“I mean, that’s always the goal to go out and complete every ball and score points,” Dormady said.” I think we did a good job of that. As a team we executed well, so I couldn’t be happier.”

And Dormady has a reason to leave spring feeling great. While most of the pre-spring hype centered on redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, Dormady, who looks noticeable stronger this spring, clearly put in a lot of work over the winter as well, building on the small head start he has on the other quarterbacks due to his opportunities to play in several college games already.

Dormady made the case that he should be the leader in the clubhouse heading into the summer, but there’s no reason to declare this race over.

Guarantano showed off his rocket of an arm on a few throws, even if they all weren’t right on the money to the extent that Dormady’s were. Guarantano’s upside remains huge, and his full game couldn’t be on display in a shortened game that featured QBs in gray, non-contact jerseys.

“There were limitations today,” Guarantano added. “We didn’t really have any quarterback run game, we didn’t have any of that, we had short whistles, we had different things that I’m able to do, extend plays that I wasn’t able to do today. But once again, I think today was a great day for me and all the rest of the quarterbacks. I think we had a chance to compete and go against the defense and just show people that Team 121 is here.”

There’s a full summer, and then likely at least part of fall camp, to get through before Jones will likely feel comfortable naming a leader or a starter at the position. Expect Jones to continue to be vague when talking about the quarterback race. He’ll use plenty of buzz words and will be very hesitant to commit to a timeframe.

But Dormady’s actions on Saturday made a nice case that he should be the leader for now.

His play on the field spoke louder than any comments Jones could make.

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