Now that quarterback Quinten Dormady has elected to transfer off the Vols’ roster, rising redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano appears to be the heavy favorite to be Tennessee’s starting quarterback in 2018.
So is this now Jarrett Guarantano’s team at Tennessee? In the words of College Gameday’s Lee Corso: “Not so fast.”
Guarantano is the favorite to land Tennessee’s starting quarterback job now that Dormady is gone. But that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll be the one who trots out as starter when the Vols take on West Virginia to open up the 2018 season. He’ll have plenty of competition despite there being only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster right now and the third one not arriving till after spring semester ends.
Will McBride surprised Vol fans with his gutsy performance this season. The true freshman was called upon to burn his redshirt and fill in for an injured Jarrett Guarantano during the Vols’ game against Southern Miss. He then got the start when Tennessee took on Missouri the following week, and he looked fairly competent in that game, completing 16 of his 32 passes for 139 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions while also running 14 times for 63 yards. McBride had the best wheels of any of the Vols’ quarterbacks in 2017, and he wasn’t bad when throwing either, especially for a true freshman making his first start.
Though it was a small sample size and it was far from extraordinary, expect McBride to give Guarantano all he wants in the quarterback competition.
Guarantano showed flashes of his potential during the 2017 season. But just like every other quarterback who suited up for the Vols last season, he looked far from magnificent as a whole. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 997 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions while completing 61.9 percent of his 139 passes. He also ran for a touchdown, but he finished with negative 39 rushing yards on the season.
Tyson Helton’s offense at Tennessee will be different than what Butch Jones ran the last five years. It won’t be as drastic of an alteration like some people seem to believe, but it will definitely look different on the field than what Vol fans have seen the last half decade. And that should benefit Tennessee’s quarterbacks.
But how well can Guarantano adjust? Will the new offense benefit him or McBride more? And what about J.T. Shrout?
Shrout has all the makings of a redshirt quarterback. Tennessee’s coaching staff wanted to redshirt McBride last year as well, but injuries prevented them from doing so. This new coaching staff would love to be able to redshirt Shrout, but only time will tell if they’re able to.
Guarantano’s main competition will come from McBride. The rising sophomore showed enough last season for Guarantano to not just be handed the job. McBride’s gunslinger mentality and running ability will fit well into the Vols’ new offense, but will he be consistent enough to unseat the projected favorite in Guarantano?
Now that Dormady is gone, Guarantano is the favorite to be Tennessee’s starting quarterback. But this is far from “his team” yet, and he’ll have to prove himself before anything is given to him.