KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's main quarterback candidates both come from football families.
Quinten Dormady's father was his high school coach. Jarrett Guarantano's dad played at Rutgers on a staff that included a graduate assistant named Butch Jones, now the head coach at Tennessee.
Their backgrounds make them particularly equipped to deal with the scrutiny that accompanies their competition. Guarantano said he still gets constant feedback from his dad as he competes for the right to replace Pittsburgh Steelers fourth-round draft pick Joshua Dobbs as Tennessee's No. 1 quarterback.
"After every practice, I'm getting a text (saying), 'How did it go?'" Guarantano said. "He knows what's going on and he knows the pressure and that type of stuff. He's definitely helped me out along the way."
James Guarantano played for Rutgers from 1989-92 and still ranks among the school's top 10 players in career catches (158) and yards receiving (2,065). Dormady threw for nearly 6,000 yards in two varsity seasons while playing for his dad, Mike Dormady, at Boerne (Texas) High School.
"It definitely helps as far as being around the game growing up, since I was really little," Dormady said. "Obviously my dad taught me a lot."
Dormady and Guarantano are the main contenders in a competition that also includes freshman Will McBride. Dormady, a junior, performed exceptionally in the spring game and has more experience. Guarantano, a redshirt freshman, is considered more mobile.
Jones has said isn't setting a timetable on naming a starter, and coaches have mentioned the possibility that both Dormady and Guarantano could play in the Sept. 4 opener with Georgia Tech . Jones said Guarantano delivered perhaps his best practice performance Saturday but added that Dormady has been "very consistent day in and day out."
In an effort to make the right choice, Tennessee's coaches analyze every move each quarterback makes.
Quarterbacks coach Mike Canales said the staff is checking not only the way the quarterbacks are throwing but also such seemingly trivial aspects as how they're jogging off the field or communicating with teammates during breaks in the action.
"We videotape everything they do, from the way they run from drill to drill, the way they interact," Jones said. 'We call it a 'Quarterback Leadership Camera.' We evaluate them as well (in) how they interact with teammates. I watch who they sit with at training table. Are they getting around other factions of the team - the offensive line, the running backs, the tight ends?"
The quarterbacks say they don't mind the scrutiny.
"They just want to check up on us," Guarantano said.
Canales believes anyone who wants this job must be as prepared as possible, even if that means facing extra cameras on the practice field or criticism in the meeting room.
"They want to be the starting quarterback at the University of Tennessee," Canales said. "It's a global position. Who wouldn't want to know? I'd want to have (all the) ammo in my pocket if I could. I'd want to make sure my guns are full. I'd want to know everything I need to do to become the starting quarterback."
Canales' comments reveal the energy the former North Texas interim head coach has brought since arriving in Knoxville this year. Just as his quarterbacks benefit from their family ties, Canales said his enthusiasm comes from his upbringing.
"My mom was a migrant worker when she was young, and they traveled all over the country picking cotton and picking watermelon or lettuce or what not," Canales said. "My mom never had a bad day. She never complained. It was God's will that that's what she was supposed to do. I see the work ethic she has and I just know that's what's in my blood. I have a passion for life. I have a passion for coaching."
Canales said it's critical that his quarterbacks "get 100 percent out of me before I can ask them to come out and be 100 percent." He's doing his part — and his quarterbacks are doing their part.
"I feel good," Dormady said. "I've done the best that I can."
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