Tennessee football: Youth should play no factor in Vols QB race

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 08: Head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers Butch Jones watches a play in the first half of their game against the Texas A
COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 08: Head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers Butch Jones watches a play in the first half of their game against the Texas A /

Tennessee football still has no clear starting quarterback for 2017. But youth should not play a factor in whom the Volunteers coaches select to start.

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Whenever there’s a quarterback race for a team, or any position race for that matter, it’s generally accepted that if both players are very close, you should go with the young guy. But for the Tennessee football program, that shouldn’t matter.

As Butch Jones, Larry Scott and Mike Canales continue to work to find a starting quarterback between Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady, they are having to choose between youth and experience.

Dormady is a pure pocket passer with the experience to take over immediately. He was amazing in the spring game and hasn’t done anything to lose his likely starting spot.

However, Guarantano generates all the hype. A dual-threat quarterback, Guarantano is a redshirt freshman with limitless potential.

As a result, it can be tempting to want to start him over Dormady. But unless he straight up beats Dormady in the race, the coaches shouldn’t give it to him.

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If this were Butch Jones’s first year and he was rebuilding the program, then yes, it would be fine to go with the freshman.

But even in his first year, he went with the veteran in Justin Worley at the time. This is his fifth year. The program has arrived.

Yes, last year’s 9-4 season was disappointing. However, Jones is at the point where his teams are judged on a year to year basis now.

And that means that with each new year, you don’t think about the future. The future is now!

Thinking about the future is the most common mistake coaches and executives make at all levels in sports. Too often they sacrifice winning now for the potential of the future…which may or may not come.

Yes, starting Guarantano and growing with him for four years would be exciting to see. But let’s break down the facts.

For starters, if Guarantano truly is great, he’ll only be there for two years. He’s already a redshirt freshman and could leave after his sophomore year. Isn’t that the same number of years the Vols have now with Dormady?

On top of that, despite the lower expectations, we already noted in an earlier post the Vols have enough talent to actually be better this year than last year.

So why sacrifice this year for the future when this year could be great?

Finally, Tennessee football’s history is not necessarily that good when it comes to choosing the young guy.

Remember 2005?

Rick Clausen consistently beat out Erik Ainge in the preseason that year, and his teammates even named him captain. But Phillip Fulmer and Randy Sanders went with Ainge as the starter and alternated the quarterbacks early on.

We remember the disaster that came from that.

But let’s look beyond just Tennessee. One of the most infamous times a coach went with the freshman phenom was 1999.

Tom Brady was the veteran with the Michigan Wolverines. Drew Henson was the freshman with the superstar talent. Brady was better, but Lloyd Carr had him alternate with Henson early in the year.

Eventually, Carr stuck with Brady, who carried the Wolverines to a 10-2 record, a top 5 finish and an Orange Bowl victory. If he had kept Brady as the starter from the beginning of the season, though, Michigan likely goes undefeated.

Getting back to Tennessee, there’s still a chance Guarantano wins the starting job. He does have the talent and the potential.

Next: Tennessee football 2017 depth chart projections

But the coaches should base the starter solely on production, in practice and in the games. To do anything else would be a major disservices to the team.