Quarterback Quinten Dormady announced his intent to transfer off the Vols’ roster on Monday evening, and that move leaves Tennessee with just two scholarship quarterbacks currently on the roster. Rising redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano and sophomore Will McBride are the only two currently on the Vols’ roster, and true freshman J.T. Shrout is set to join them later this year.
Needless to say, the Vols are pretty thin on both experience and actual bodies at quarterback right now. But according to a report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Tennessee’s coaching staff is trying to fix that problem as quickly as they can.
Thamel states in an article that Tyson Helton, the Vols’ new offensive coordinator, has reached out to grad transfer quarterback Alex Thomson from Wagner. And according to several people that Thamel spoke to, Thomson could be an “under the radar” gem.
Coming out of high school, Thomson had few schools looking at him as a quarterback. He was a Wing T quarterback in high school, and ultimately he chose to walk on at Wagner after receiving an academic scholarship. He earned a football scholarship his redshirt sophomore year at Wagner, and his offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, altered the offense from a spread-based veer to a pro-style system to better fit Thomson’s skill set.
And it paid off in a big way.
Thomson broke out in 2016 and threw for 2,436 yards, 16 touchdowns, and just five interceptions while completing 57 percent of his 323 pass attempts. He also ran for three scores that season. He only played in two games this past season because of a shoulder injury, however. He completed 27 of his 46 pass attempts for 311 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He also ran for 57 yards on seven carries.
The 6-foot-5, 225 pound QB from Wagner not only went on to have more success than anyone imagined, but he’s also earned some extremely high praise from people who know the NFL well.
His former offensive coordinator at Wagner, Rich Scangarello, is now the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers. And he believes his former quarterback at Wagner has what it takes to play in the NFL.
“I think he’s an NFL quarterback,” Scangarello stated to Thamel. “I have no doubt about it. He’s athletic, smart, and tough. And he’s just scratching the surface as a player. He’s as good as the back-up quarterbacks in the NFL right now. I really believe that.”
According to Scangarello, Thomson has been timed in the 4.7 second range in his 40-yard dash time and is a “very quick processor” along with having a “big-time arm talent.”
“If I was the offensive coordinator at Alabama, I’d want him to be my quarterback,” Scangarello added. “I’d take him anywhere. I’m going to draft the guy someday.
“He’s legit. He can play anywhere.”
But Scangarello isn’t the only person with ties to the NFL who has been wowed by Thomson.
Former NFL quarterback Phil Simms also likes what he’s seen from Thomson. During last year’s offseason, Thomson began working with Sims to hone his quarterbacking skills. And Sims told Thamel that he believes Thomson is ready to move up from the FCS level into deeper waters.
“He can play at any level,” Simms stated. “There’s no question. If things fall right, I definitely think he’s a pro prospect. I don’t even have to hesitate to say that.”
Simms added that Thomson plans on working out again with him this spring and the two plan to improve his footwork and build on what they worked on last year. “He’s a thrower right now,” Simms claimed. “He will be a thrower and a passer by June, or whenever he has to go to school.”
Tennessee isn’t the only school interested in Thomson’s services, however. Iowa State, Oregon State, and FIU also have interest in him. Thomson will be eligible to play immediately wherever he decides to go, as he just received his release from Wagner last week. He’s expected to have two years of eligibility remaining whenever he enrolls.
According to Thamel, Helton and the Vols have offered Thomson a “blueshirt.” What that means is that Thomson can’t go on a paid official visit but is awarded a scholarship on the first day of camp. That scholarship will count toward the following year’s recruiting class, which means the Vols will have one less scholarship to offer in the 2019 recruiting class.
Thomson hasn’t set a timetable for his decision because he plans to enjoy a recruitment process that he didn’t get to experience out of high school. He plans to officially visit FIU in a couple weeks, and the Vols will likely try and visit him as well.
“It’s really weird,” Thomson told Thamel. “I’m taking an official visit. I think it’s the coolest thing. My only recruiting trips in high school were to East Stroudsburg and Wagner.”
Take a look at Thomson’s highlights from his 2016 season: