Playing quarterback at the University of Tennessee is no small feat with the likes of Peyton Manning, Condredge Holloway, and Heath Shuler having played the position in the past. But for the first time in several years, the Tennessee Volunteers have a bright outlook at quarterback. In fact, it may be the brightest it's ever been for the Vols.
Heading into the 2015 season, junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs is the unquestioned starter after a breakout 2014 campaign. Dobbs took over as the starter over halfway through the season last year and dazzled in nearly every game he played, and the hype around him has only increased since the season ended. Dobbs, along with sophomore running back Jalen Hurd, were named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, an award given annually to the best offensive player in the country, earlier this week. Dobbs is looking to become the first Vol to win the award since Peyton Manning won it in 1997. Dobbs is even in early talks as a dark horse Heisman candidate for 2015 and has consistently been tabbed as one of the top three quarterbacks in the SEC this upcoming season.
But the hype surrounding Tennessee's quarterback position doesn't stop at Dobbs. Current 2016 Tennessee commit Jarrett Guarantano is receiving massive amounts of praise this week for his performance at Nike's The Opening, a camp where elite prospects go through drills together and are tested against each other. Guarantano was one of the Elite Eleven quarterbacks at the camp, and his play during drills and 7-on-7 work drew attention from national analysts. By the end of the quarterback drills on Wednesday, Guarantano was given a SPARQ rating (Nike's rating system for elite athletes) of 120.06, the highest ever for a quarterback at The Opening.
Also of note on Guarantano's stat sheet is his 40-yard dash time. Guarantano ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, which is phenomenal as a quarterback. For comparison, Johnny Manziel ran a 4.68 at the NFL Combine in 2014, and Guarantano figures to be a much better passer than Manziel ever was. Guarantano also recorded a 37.5 inch vertical leap, which placed him in the 99th percentile among competitors at The Opening.
Guarantano wasn't the only Tennessee quarterback getting praise at The Opening, however. Dobbs was there as a mentor for the camp, and the national analysts there were raving about his performance on the field.
According to most everyone here at #Elite11, JT Barrett and Josh Dobbs have been most impressive. Unofficial competition starting now.— Trav Haney (@TravHaneyESPN) July 7, 2015
Even his off-the-field activities were drawing attention from national scouts, as his academics once again became the topic of conversation.
As of now, Jarrett Guarantano is rated as a 4-star quarterback in the 2016 class by all recruiting services. But his high ratings at The Opening and overall performance figure to bump him up to a 5-star ranking, and if he stays committed to the Vols, he will be Tennessee's first official 5-star quarterback in the recruiting era. Given the potential of Guarantano, the hype surrounding Dobbs, and the performances of both at The Opening, Tennessee had one of the best quarterback duos present at the camp.
Both Dobbs and Guarantano bring an athleticism never seen at quarterback for the Vols. Their mix of passing and the ability to run have brought immeasurable anticipation for Tennessee's quarterback play for the next half decade from fans. In fact, it's hard to recall any quarterbacks receiving comparable hype in the last 15 years aside from 2004 when Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer joined the team as freshmen.
Not to be forgotten are 4-star quarterbacks Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones who are already on Tennessee's roster for 2015 and will compete for playing time with Guarantano once he joins the team. But with the way things are shaping up now, the future of the quarterback position looks securely locked up by Dobbs for the present and Guarantano for the future.