March 21, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee's quarterback competition has officially begun.

The search for Joshua Dobbs' replacement took center stage Tuesday as the Volunteers opened spring practice. Tennessee has scholarship quarterbacks are Quinten Dormady, Jarrett Guarantano and Sheriron Jones back from last season, and the Vols also have walk-on Zac Jancek and incoming freshman Will McBride, who enrolled early enough to participate in spring practice.

''We're all good friends, we're all out here competing and we all want to play,'' Guarantano said.

Coach Butch Jones isn't setting a timetable for choosing a starter for the Sept. 4 season opener with Georgia Tech. He says the biggest thing he's seeking from his quarterbacks is ''consistency in performance every single day.''

Tennessee's next quarterback will have big shoes to fill, but Butch Jones believes the competition has gotten off to a nice start.

''I've liked their approach,'' he said after Tuesday's practice. ''I thought they commanded the line of scrimmage very well. Now the installation will pick up. There are a lot of new things going in installation-wise, things we haven't done before, new drills we haven't done before, and we're seeing how they respond. How do they respond to controlled chaos? Because that's what the game of football is.''

Dormady, who is 6-foot-4, backed up Dobbs the last two seasons. He heads into his junior year having gone 24-of-39 passing for 357 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions in 10 career appearances.

''I think that going into this spring, it's just (about) being consistent and having attention to details and doing the little things,'' Dormady said. ''That's what I'm trying to work on - and then just making all the throws.''

Guarantano, also 6-4, will be a redshirt freshman this fall. He was a consensus four-star recruit ranked among the nation's top five dual-threat quarterbacks in his class by multiple services.

He says the redshirt year helped turn him from a ''gunslinger'' to a more complete quarterback.

''It's like a dream come true now that I get to compete for the job,'' Guarantano said. ''Last summer, I kind of got in and I knew I was going to be third (team). Now that I have a chance to compete, it's a whirlwind. I'm just excited to get started.''

Sheriron Jones, who will be a sophomore this fall, has appeared in just one game for Tennessee. He redshirted in 2015 and threw one pass late in a 55-0 victory over Football Championship Subdivision program Tennessee Tech last season.

The winner of this competition will have a tough task replacing Dobbs, who started every game for Tennessee the last two seasons and made 35 career starts.

Dobbs threw for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns last year while also rushing for a team-high 831 yards and 12 scores. His 3,781 yards of total offense last season - he also had a 4-yard touchdown catch - rank second in school history to Peyton Manning's 3,789 in 1997.

NOTES: Defensive back Stephen Griffin has left Tennessee's program and intends to transfer. Griffin had 13 tackles last season while playing in 10 games and making one start. ... Austin Smith has moved from defensive end to linebacker, his original position. Smith was a defensive end who didn't play at all last year after making three tackles as a reserve linebacker in 2015.

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