KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt isn’t looking for the Vols’ next starting quarterback to carry the team on his shoulders.
But he is looking for a quarterback to lead the team who won’t beat Tennessee with turnovers.
“I know one thing,” Pruitt told Vols football writers last week. “You can’t win in this league without a quarterback.”
Tennessee returns scholarship sophomore quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride, and the Vols signed Southern California quarterback JT Shrout in their 2018 recruiting class.
Most recently, Pruitt landed Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst, a 6-foot-5, 231-pound quarterback who seems to fit the pro-style offense Tennessee plans to run.
Chryst and Shrout won’t arrive until June, so that means Guarantano and McBride will have all spring to show Pruitt and offensive coordinator Ty Helton what they are capable of doing, starting with the first practice on March 20.
Or, as Pruitt made clear, what they won’t do at quarterback.
“I think the big thing about quarterback is when the possession is over, make sure you are kicking the football, whether that’s an extra point, [field goal] or punt,” Pruitt said. “So, it’s taking care of the ball.
“I don’t think it matters about athletic ability or about arm strength. I think it matters about how you can get the other 10 guys on the team to play at the highest level and play together. That’s the most important thing for a quarterback.”
Pruitt indicated the job is wide open.
“I’ve been as brutally honest as I can with them,” Pruitt said, “and I don’t know what we have.”
The Vols ranked 109th in the nation in passing efficiency last season, with only Mississippi State (111th) and Florida (112th) faring worse in the SEC.
Helton said before Tennessee landed Chryst that he expected to get the most from the talent on the team roster.
“I think we have different types of guys. I think we have guys that are good runners, I think we have guys that are good passers and we have guys that are smart people,” Helton said at Tennessee Theatre. “And with that group, as a whole unit, we’ll find guys we can win with.”
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