The 2016 season is over, and SEC football rosters are starting to come together for 2017. It’s the perfect time to evaluate each team’s quarterback situation for next season.
Quarterback issues were a significant part of the SEC’s struggles last season, but the conference has starters coming back at 12 of the 14 schools. The turnaround should be immediate. However, few programs have more uncertainty at that position than Tennessee. The Vols are losing one of their best players ever.
To clarify, this grade takes into account a team’s entire quarterback situation, including backups. Just having a great starter isn’t necessarily good enough to earn a quality grade.
Make sure and read all our previous quarterback installments:
Alabama Crimson Tide | Arkansas Razorbacks | Auburn Tigers | Florida Gators | Georgia Bulldogs | Kentucky Wildcats | LSU Tigers | Mississippi State Bulldogs | Missouri Tigers | Ole Miss Rebels | South Carolina | Texas A&M Aggies | Vanderbilt Commodores
Key returners: Quinten Dormady (junior), Sheriron Jones (sophomore)
Key departures: Josh Dobbs (graduation)
Key additions: Jarrett Guarantano (redshirt freshman), Will McBride (true freshman)
Returning production: 12-18 for 150 yards
Departing production: 225-357 for 2,946 yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs; 150 carries for 831 yards, 12 TDs
By the end of Josh Dobbs’ career in Knoxville, he actually might have been underrated across the conference. Obviously, he never quite honed his accuracy, especially downfield. But regardless, Dobbs leaves college as one of the most productive SEC players in recent memory.
After the Volunteers posted a bad loss to South Carolina, Dobbs went on a tear. Over the last five games of his collegiate career, Dobbs threw for 1,260 yards and 12 touchdowns, completing 74.2 percent of his passes and averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt. A true dual-threat quarterback, Dobbs also averaged 102.2 yards per game in that span with 7 rushing scores.
Dobbs leaves Tennessee No. 5 all time on both the Tennessee passing list (7,138 yards) and touchdowns list (53). Surprisingly, he also ranks No. 3 on the rushing touchdown list (32). This all to say, Tennessee has a heck of a task now replacing Dobbs.
Only two quarterbacks on the roster have ever thrown a pass in a Tennessee game. Quinten Dormady is 24-39 for 357 career yards. Sheriron Jones threw 1 pass for 2 yards. That’s it.
For most teams, having an unknown at quarterback is an issue. With all the losses Tennessee suffered after the 2016 season, the uncertainty could tank the season. Dobbs was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the Volunteers’ offense last season. The next quarterback has that pressure on his shoulders immediately.
In addition to Dobbs leaving, the next three best offensive players are out. Jalen Hurd left at midseason, and Alvin Kamara and Josh Malone departed for the NFL draft. Jauan Jennings will need to step into a superstar role immediately – is he ready?
The one saving grace is that every quarterback on the roster was a high recruit. Dormady (No. 262), Jones (254) and Jarrett Guarantano (77) were all top 300 players nationally. Incoming freshman Will McBride is the one exception, but he likely will redshirt anyway.
Tennessee’s battle appears to be between Dormady and Guarantano. One has more experience, while the other was the higher-ranked recruit. Guarantano also has more dual-threat ability, which could factor into what the Vols want to do on offense.
There are plenty of talented options but absolutely no experience to fall back on. This will be one of the most scrutinized quarterback battles of the offseason. It doesn’t help that Tennessee needs results next season, or Butch Jones could be looking for work.