After the 42-17 win over Vanderbilt, Volunteer fans may not be all mad as they finally got to see freshman Harrison Bailey shine. He went 14/18 for 111 yards and two touchdowns. JT Shrout also came in at signal-caller during the game and threw for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Now the question remains, who will be the University of Tennessee quarterback for the future?
Tennessee Quarterback Options
When asked about a starting quarterback as of today, Jeremy Pruitt answered “we’re going to look at these last three games and give them the same opportunity.” indicating Shrout and Bailey will continue to compete for the starting job. It will be interesting to see how they rotate against Texas A&M this coming Saturday.
When looking at the final game(s) in the 2020 season along with 2021 and beyond, the Tennessee quarterback room has a few options. The most obvious two choices are Bailey and Shrout. Both will get an opportunity to battle it out to be the Tennessee quarterback in these coming weeks. Two more names are Kaidon Salter who is a four-star quarterback from Cedar Hill, Texas who is currently committed to the Vols as well as current backup Brian Maurer. Tennessee could also take another route and pick up a graduate transfer for next season. Let’s dive into each of these options.
Bailey and Shrout
Both competed on the practice and game field last week and showed sparks of what could be a bright future. According to reporters, it is likely that Bailey will get the start again which aligns more with Tennessee’s future. He was a former five-star recruit out of Marietta, Georgia. Bailey has big-play ability and displays maturity against tough competition as he broke records in 6A football in Georgia which, year after year, is loaded with national talent.
Most argue that his ceiling is far higher than that of Shrout, who was a three-star recruit coming out of Newhall, California in 2018. Shrout is known for his big arm but his main concern is his questionable decision-making, often leading to turnovers. If Shrout were to take over as quarterback for the Volunteers, it would be vital for him to show progress in his ability to take play. Or, as coaches like to say, just play “clean football”.
Salter and Maurer
Both Salter and Maurer are regarded as dual-threat quarterbacks due to their ability to create or extend plays with their legs. This is vastly different from the current Volunteer offense which, at times, is lethargic and slow.
Maurer was a four-star recruit out of Ocala, Florida in 2019 and had a very strong showing at the Elite 11 competition. Fans were excited to see his athleticism and energetic style of play at Tennessee and had their wishes granted when Maurer started a few games in 2019. He had solid showings but also turned the ball over too much. Unfortunately for Maurer, injuries plagued the few sparks he provided last year.
Salter is currently the third-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation. This should tell you how highly regarded Salter is, which naturally excites Vol fans. However, Salter has yet to sign with Tennessee, let alone step on campus and show his abilities in a college setting. For Vols’ fans, HOPE is the only thing “Big Orange” country can currently hang their hats on. He could be the explosive and athletic Tennessee quarterback that fans have missed since Josh Dobbs left.
2020 has been a very frustrating year for Tennessee fans and many are looking for anything to provide joy. The change at quarterback just might do that and help remediate the results of this year. Whether it be Bailey, Shrout, Maurer, Salter, or a surprising graduate transfer, Tennessee fans should be excited heading into 2021. Obviously, all of this can go out the window if Pruitt is relieved and there is a max exodus out of the program, but that is another story for another day.
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