HOOVER, Ala. — During his appearance at SEC media days Monday, Butch Jones stuck with his offseason script about his time frame for naming a starting quarterback.
"There is no time frame," Jones said.
But the fifth-year Tennessee coach acknowledged a scenario in which both quarterback candidates, junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, could play.
"Well, I think playing time is earned, so if both players earn their right to play, we'll play both quarterbacks," Jones said as he stood at the podium in the event's main room. "I've been in systems where we've been able to do that."
Jones has never used a true two-quarterback system at Tennessee, but first-year quarterbacks coach Mike Canales had expressed an openness to trying one when asked about the possibility in spring practice.
Jones said Monday that both players are "very capable and very good football players" and went on to describe the skill sets of Dormady and Guarantano as "very similar."
He did note a personality difference between the two.
"You've got Jarrett, who is a feisty competitor, young and ambitious," Jones said of Guarantano, who is from New Jersey. "Then you've got Quinten, who's been in the program a little bit. He's a little more reserved."
Dormady is the son of a Texas high school football coach. He has game experience from backing up Josh Dobbs in 2015 and 2016.
"If both players earn the right to play, they'll both play," Jones said. "Again, it's how it's going to play itself out."
Senior offensive lineman Jashon Robertson said he trusts the coaching staff with the decision.
"My job isn't to pick the guys, it's to block for them," Robertson said. "Regardless, I'm going to prepare and we're going to prepare as a unit to block whoever we need to block for. It really doesn't matter who it is or if we play both."
Junior defensive tackle Shy Tuttle was running last week and is expected to be back in action when training camp begins next month, according to Jones.
"He'll probably be limited in some aspects, but him running and doing change of direction drills was very encouraging to see," Jones said.facebook
Tuttle missed the final five games of the 2016 season after injuring his knee against South Carolina. That followed a broken leg that caused the former five-star prospect to miss the final seven games in 2015.
"The body heals at different rates, so we don't ever put a timetable," Jones said. "But he has made great progress over the summer months."
Defensive line depth is a concern for Tennessee entering the 2017 season. A healthy Tuttle would bolster the defensive tackle position, which was depleted due to injuries and the dismissal of Danny O'Brien in 2016.
Vols in Vietnam
Junior offensive lineman Jack Jones and junior defensive end Kyle Phillips are in Vietnam as part of a university-sanctioned VOLeaders trip. Butch Jones called the trip "a great experience for them."
"When you look at our Vol Leaders Academy, those are all the great stories that never go told," he said. "People want to talk about Bob Shoop's contract, but let's talk about being in Vietnam and what this means to our players."
Shoop is entering his second season as Tennessee's defensive coordinator embroiled in a dispute with his former employer, Penn State, where he worked as defensive coordinator for two seasons before coming to Knoxville.
Penn State is suing Shoop for nearly $900,000, claiming he breached the terms of his contract. Pennlive.com reported last week that court documents showed a clause in Shoop's contract stating that if he resigned before his contract expired on Feb. 15, 2018, he had to pay Penn State liquidated damages of 50 percent "of his base pay" for the rest of his contract.
Shoop is countersuing, with the claim that he "was constructively discharged/terminated from, or forced or compelled to leave his employment with Penn State," according to court documents and Pennlive.com.
Jones was asked if the dispute concerned him.
"No, not at all," he said. "I think there are a lot of things people don't see, and it's easy to pass judgment. That's a personal thing with Bob, and I have no concerns whatsoever."
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com.