Since Tennessee’s Orange and White Game back in April, Vol fans and media alike have assumed that junior quarterback Quinten Dormady had a leg up on the Vols’ ongoing quarterback battle heading into the 2017 season. Dormady was a perfect 10-for-10 on his pass attempts in the game and looked poised in the pocket. So far in fall camp, there has been little to indicate that Dormady has given up any of that perceived edge in the battle.
But according to Butch Jones, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano may be starting to heat up the competition entering week three of fall camp.
“Jarrett Guarantano had the best practice he’s had last night,” Jones said during a press conference on Sunday. “I liked his command of the offense. I liked what he brought to the table.”
Gurantano had the benefit of redshirting last season so he could develop and learn Tennessee’s offense. But the downside to that is he has no live game reps to his benefit unlike Dormady. But a change in offensive coordinators over the offseason leveled the playing field a little bit more, and things are finally starting to come together for Guarantano in a way they hadn’t previously.
“I think it’s all starting to accumulate throughout the practices,” Guarantano said of himself during the Vols’ media day on Sunday. “I think each practice I’m getting better, and I think that whenever I’m able to go out there and have some fun and just have some high energy with the guys, I think that just makes for a good practice.
“I think that with me being able to complete a lot of passes and being able to run the ball, I think that’s really what made it a great practice. And I’m looking forward to more in the future.”
But as good as Guarantano looked on Saturday, Butch Jones was still pleased with how Dormady has performed throughout the fall. And he’s no closer to naming a starting quarterback now than he was at the start of fall camp.
“I don’t believe in setting timetables,” Jones stated. “When it happens, it happens. I see both individuals competing exceptionally hard. Quinten has been consistent day in and day out. The mark of good players is they elevate the play of others around them, and I want to see our quarterbacks step up and elevate the play of others around them. Have a commanding presence of those around them.
“We video tape everything they do. I watch who they sit with at training table. Are they associating with other parts of the team? Being a quarterback, there’s so many demands that go into it. There’s so much more than on the field. What are you doing off the field? Being around your teammates and getting to know everyone.”
Jones is in no rush to name a starting quarterback for the Vols. That’s allowing Guarantano to assert himself into the battle more, and Dormady won’t have an easy ride to the finish line if the redshirt freshman keeps progressing.