Tennessee lost a slew of contributors from its 2016 team.
While defensive lineman Derek Barnett has the greatest NFL potential at this stage, the biggest loss the Volunteers are dealing with is at quarterback.
Joshua Dobbs was incredibly productive for Tennessee over the final two and a half years of his college career. And now that he’s gone, the Volunteers must find a way to replace a quarterback who generated 3,781 total yards as a senior.
“You're replacing an individual who really leaves a legacy at the University of Tennessee in Joshua Dobbs and everything that he brought to the quarterback position,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. “When he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was the highest drafted quarterback since Peyton Manning in our program's history, so he's brought a lot.”
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Tennessee has yet to decide who will replace Dobbs. In 2016, Dobbs threw for 2,946 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 831 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Dobbs also recorded a 4-yard reception for a touchdown.
It will be a decision between two quarterbacks – Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady. Guarantano was considered the top overall dual-threat quarterback in the recruiting class of 2016. Dormady was considered the No. 11 pocket-passing quarterback in the recruiting class of 2015.
Both were ranked as four-star recruits coming out of high school.
“Josh did a great job for us. He took some shots and threw some strikes,” Tennessee offensive lineman Jashon Robertson said. “He made a lot of plays for us. Of course it’ll be really tough production to replace. At the same time, we have two great quarterbacks right now battling it out. Regardless of whoever it is, we’ll protect him and get the job done.”
Jones noted how different the two quarterbacks are. Figuring out who replaces Dobbs will be Jones’ most important decision before the season starts.
“You have a young individual in Jarrett Guarantano, very energetic, very demonstrative, very passionate, very, very talented,” Jones said. “And then Quinten Dormady, who is a coach's son, who has kind of been in our football program. So a little bit different in terms of personality-wise, but these two individuals are very, very talented.”
Jones said he is in no rush to name a starting quarterback. There may even be a scenario, considering the different styles of play both quarterbacks offer, where Tennessee plays both quarterbacks to start the 2017 season.
“I think playing time is earned, so if both players earn their right to play, we'll play both quarterbacks,” Jones said. “I've been in systems where we've been able to do that, and really Quinten and Jarrett's skill sets are very similar to each other. I think we have an offense that really can play to the skill sets of the quarterback and all of the players around. Again, if both players earn the right to play, they'll both play. Again, it's how it's going to play itself out, because these two individuals are very, very capable and very good football players. It's a good problem to have.”