KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s offensive coordinator. Gone.
Tennessee’s pseudo quarterbacks coach. Also gone.
And yet, Will McBride never second-guessed signing with the Vols.
The freshman quarterback from Clear Springs (League City, Texas) High is one of Tennessee’s five mid-year enrollees, and while Mike DeBord and Nick Sheridan — his two main recruiters — are no longer with the program, McBride is excited about his future in Orange and White.
“It was shocking … But it definitely taught me a good lesson,” he said.
“One that I can pass down to my younger brother. You got to pick the school. What’s best for you, rather than trying to please a coach. … You kind of have to be selfish within the process. That’s what had to happen.”
During a whirlwind month, McBride flipped to Tennessee from Memphis right after the NCAA-mandated contact period ended in early December. He committed five days after DeBord personally offered a scholarship, too.
Less than three weeks later, DeBord left Tennessee for Indiana. Still, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound signal caller always dreamed of playing in the SEC, so he stuck with his final decision.
“Coach (Butch) Jones is a big reason that I felt comfortable here,” McBride said.
“I don’t think the offense is going to change. They let me know they base their offense around the quarterback. They do what the strengths of the quarterback are. He’s going to keep everything in place. I think the offense will stay the same.”
With Josh Dobbs graduating, Tennessee will have an open competition at quarterback this spring. The battle is considered two-horse race between Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano, but McBride is eager to be in the discussion. He understands he’s a long shot to play, but he isn’t scared by competition.
“Those two guys are great players. I would hate to say that I’m in the mix. I think those guys are definitely the front-runners,” he said.
“I’m going to give them the respect that they deserve. I’m going to have to make a huge impact on the practice field to show my skills off. … There’s going to have to be a clear difference between how good I am versus how good they are for me to start. But I think that’s fair. I’m going to have to be clearly better than them for me to start. … I definitely respect that those guys are the front-runners.”
Regardless of the outcome, McBride is glad he enrolled early to jump-start his development and transition. He wants to learn and study under Dormady and Guarantano and prepare in case he is eventually called on next season.
“Anything can happen,” he said.
“Two guys can get hurt. Worse-case scenario I could be in there. Competing with those guys, I’m automatically going to be a better quarterback learning from them. It’s a good thing to get in the system early to know what you’re doing.”
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