The Tennessee Vols are undoubtedly on the right path under head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
During Pruitt’s first two seasons on Rocky Top, we’ve seen the Vols’ depth improve immensley (though there’s still work to be done). We’ve also seen a new standard/culture arise from the ashes of the Butch Jones era.
The expectations at Tennessee are different under Pruitt than they were under Jones.
There are no more moral victories. Pruitt expects the Vols to win every game they play, regardless of any talent/depth gaps.
But while Tennessee is trending in the right direction under Pruitt, there’s still one area where the Vols must improve, or they’ll never be elite.
The quarterback room.
This is pretty obvious — it’s nearly impossible to be elite without a great quarterback room — but it appears the Vols are further away from having an elite quarterback room than I realized.
247Sports recently ranked the top 25 quarterback rooms in college football and Tennessee’s didn’t make the list.
I was a bit surprised by this at first. But it actually makes sense.
The Vols don’t have any proven options at quarterback. Incumbent starter Jarrett Guarantano is what he is at this point (he might improve some in 2020, but he’s nearly hit his ceiling as a redshirt senior). The much-hyped Harrison Bailey has yet to take a snap in college. Sophomore Brian Mauer was inconsistent last season and redshirt sophomore JT Shrout played a bit too loose with the football in 2019. There’s also Maryland transfer Kasim Hill, who has battled through injuries during his collegiate career.
Tennessee has talent at the position, but that’s about it right now.
And guess what?
Nearly every top 25-30 program has unproven talent at quarterback. The Vols aren’t unique in this aspect.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, there are numerous programs that have some proven options at quarterback. And those are the programs that made 247Sports’ top 25 list.
Now, this could obviously change in 2020. Maybe someone other than Guarantano steps up and takes a stronghold on the starting quarterback job for the Vols. Or maybe there’s just some much-needed experience that’s gained this upcoming season.
The addition of four-star quarterback Kaidon Salter in the 2021 recruiting class will help, too.
Tennessee is on its way to being an elite program. But it’s not going to happen until they have one of the top quarterback rooms in the nation.
And the Vols still have some work to do before that becomes a reality.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports/Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports