KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Quinten Dormady chose Tennessee over Alabama and other suitors last June, his commitment represented a major win for the Volunteers on the recruiting trail.
If the first spring of his Vols career is any indication, he should account for several wins on the field by the time his tenure concludes, too.
The 6'4", 213-pound quarterback from Boerne, Texas, displayed the ability to make all the throws throughout spring. He has a strong arm, can roll out and throw on the run and proved in the spring-ending Orange & White Game that he already has a working understanding of the offense.
The Vols should be in strong hands with junior starter Joshua Dobbs for the next two seasons, but it's unrealistic to expect UT to be able to make it with just one signal-caller.
It hasn't been able to do that in recent memory. The past two years, the Vols have been forced to use three quarterbacks because of injuries and inefficiency.
Considering the three quarterbacks on the depth chart after Dobbs are all freshmen, Dormady has to be ready right away. After a month's worth of spring practices, he's closer than he was. He was more impressive than fellow freshman midtermer Jauan Jennings.
The wild card in the QB race is California prospect Sheriron Jones, who hasn't yet made it to campus, but he'd have to be pretty impressive to overtake Dormady.
The coaching staff stopped short of calling the tall Texan the clear backup during the month-long drills, but it's obvious he's ahead.
Dormady said after the spring game that arriving early in Knoxville was huge for his development.
"Overall, just getting in the playbook and knowing that has been the biggest thing," he said. "I've also taken strides with my footwork—you know, throwing on the run and that kind of thing. I'm happy with where I'm at right now."
Mechanical issues are always going to arise with young quarterbacks, and it's no different with Dormady.
When B/R was in Knoxville as a guest in UT's team meeting rooms, there were times when Dormady looked sharp and threw crisp passes. From snap to throw, he was efficient.
"I love this, Q," offensive coordinator Mike DeBord called out during a meeting to Dormady, rewinding a perfectly thrown out route several times. "I love your ball placement here."
Other times, repeating the mechanics, and especially the footwork, was an issue. The results of the ensuing passes showed as much, too.
The very next play DeBord showed on film after praising Dormady was an errant throw the coach attributed to where his feet were when he threw.
The ups and downs were on display in the spring game as well. Dormady completed five of 11 passes for 96 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. However, he did throw a ball that could have been picked.
But his strong arm and pocket poise are huge reasons why teams coveted his signature, and those were evident. The fans got to witness it as well, as he delivered a beautiful deep ball to Josh Malone for a 65-yard touchdown during the spring finale (3:05 of below video).
DeBord praised Dormady to The Daily Times' Grant Ramey earlier this spring.
He's got a really strong arm. He's doing a pretty good job with his feet right now, getting in position to make all the different types of throws.
We have to remember that he should be in high school right now. He's out here and we've thrown a lot of football with him. I really like how he’s handled it. He's got really good talent, he's working hard and he continues to get better. I just like the way he's going about it right now.
The key aspect to remember is this is only the beginning for Dormady.
While Jennings' athleticism was on full display during the spring game, his passing prowess isn't anywhere near ready to lead an SEC offense. It may get there, but Dormady is far more advanced in that area than his classmate.
Lost in the excitement of Dobbs rallying to win the spring game quarterback challenge—a drill that required throwing to targets all over the field—in front of 63,000-plus fans was that Dormady originally applied the pressure.
That exercise proved Dormady has the chops to deliver under pressure, but will it be the same with A'Shawn Robinson or Leonard Floyd breathing down his neck? That's the next step that we won't know until he gets live game action.
The 2014 season proved that while UT may not need a mobile quarterback to run coach Butch Jones' offensive system, it certainly can cover up a lot of warts.
Dormady is nowhere near the statuesque quarterback that Justin Worley was. He can move enough to elude pass-rushers.
Several times in the Orange & White Game, he showed the ability to move the pocket and throw on the run even if he isn't exactly the same read-option weapon as either Dobbs or Jennings.
Tennessee has the luxury of getting in three new quarterbacks with different skill sets. When 4-star quarterback commitment Jarrett Guarantano is thrown into the fray next year, the Vols will have several intriguing candidates to take over once Dobbs' career is over.
Dormady has outfitted himself nicely to be in position to be the guy.
With improved velocity following some shoulder issues, he thrived in his first collegiate setting.
The spring performance caused Jones to declare to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan that he was "very, very encouraged" by Dormady and that he had made "tremendous progress" through spring.
For a team that needs a backup quarterback right now and a clear-cut leader who'll have the opportunity to helm a future offense full of elite prospects, Dormady's start was ideal.
If he continues to develop his mechanics and master the playbook, Dormady's ceiling is extremely high. He has the size, arm ability, intelligence and mobility to run this scheme.
All he needs is experience.
Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.