One of the Tennessee Vols biggest 2021 recruiting targets is four-star quarterback Ty Simpson.
Simpson, 6-foot-2/185 lbs, is the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation. And he’s from Martin, TN.
In other words, he’s a must-get player for the Vols.
Tennessee, however, has a lot of obstacles to overcome if they’re going to land Simpson.
New UT head coach Josh Heupel has been on the job for less than a month. There are the impending sanctions that will impact Tennessee football (the unknown of the sanctions likely hurts the Vols just as bad as the actual sanctions). And then there’s also the fact that Alabama and Clemson — the two other programs strongly in the mix to land Simpson — have a lot more to offer Simpson right now than the Volunteers (such as the opportunity to immediately compete for a national championship).
Despite everything working against Tennessee in this recruiting battle, I still think the Vols have a chance to land Simpson. Heupel has done a really nice job of building a relationship with Simpson over the last few weeks. And I think Simpson’s heart is at Tennessee. He’s the kind of kid who is going to put a lot of thought into his decision.
One thing I think should be working in the Vols’ favor is Heupel’s offense and how Simpson fits into it.
Heupel’s offense features a lot of Air Raid concepts. And that’s because Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach had a big impact on Heupel’s football philosophy (Leach was Heupel’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma in the late 90s).
Quarterbacks who played in the Air Raid offense used to be viewed as a negative to NFL scouts. Guys like Graham Harrell put up huge numbers in college in the Air Raid offense (Harrell played under Leach at Texas Tech), only to fizzle in the NFL.
The perception of the Air Raid offense in the NFL, however, has changed a lot in recent years.
That’s mainly because of the success of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who played at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury (a Leach disciple).
Mahomes is obviously in a league of his own.
But he’s a player that I think is similar to Simpson.
Both players are former baseball players, which I think is an important trait in quarterbacks today. Simpson said recently that he grew up focusing on baseball, much like Mahomes. Because of all that time on the baseball field, Simpson and Mahomes are both able to throw from multiple arm slots, which certainly helps when evading pressure from defenders.
Mahomes isn’t the only quarterback with roots in the Air Raid system that’s found success in the NFL, by the way.
Air Raid QBs starting in the NFL this week:
Kyle Allen (If Newton can’t play)
9 air raid QBs!
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) September 17, 2019
Kansas City has the best offense in the NFL. And they incorporate a lot of Air Raid themes into their offense (not a surprise, considering the presence of Mahomes).
The NFL is a copycat league. What the Chiefs are doing is clearly working. That’s why I think we’re going to see more Air Raid concepts creeping into NFL playbooks over the next several years.
Simpson’s ultimate goal is obviously to get to the NFL. Heupel’s offense would best prepare Simpson for where the NFL is going.
I know there’s a lot that will go into Simpson’s decision. But from a purely offensive standpoint, the Vols could be the best fit for the young dynamic quarterback.
Featured image via 247Sports