Who will be the Tennessee Vols‘ starting quarterback in 2021?
That’s one of the biggest questions that new UT head coach Josh Heupel has to answer in the coming months.
And for now, it’s a question that doesn’t have a clear answer.
The Vols have four quality quarterback options on their roster.
Sophomore Harrison Bailey finished the 2020 season as Tennessee’s starting quarterback. Junior Brian Maurer has battled injuries during his time at UT, but he’s an extremely athletic quarterback who can be a playmaker in Heupel’s offense.
True freshman Kaidon Salter may be the most talented quarterback on the roster, but he also has zero college football experience.
And then there’s Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker, a senior from Greensboro, NC that has plenty of experience.
Hooker played 18 games for the Hokies over the past two seasons, passing for 2,894 yards, 22 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Those numbers might not seem overly impressive, but they’re actually indicative of one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country.
According to The Athletic, Hooker is the 12th most efficient returning quarterback in college football in 2021, coming in just behind LSU’s Myles Brennan.
Hooker averaged 7.26 yards per play in 2020. Georgia’s JT Daniels, who is the most efficient returning quarterback, averaged 8.99 yards per play.
If there’s a leader in the clubhouse to be the Vols’ starting quarterback in 2021, it has to be Hooker. He has experience in an up-tempo offense under Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech, and he’s clearly efficient with the ball.
Ultimately, the starting quarterback decision will come down to which player can best execute Heupel’s offense — the player that makes the reads the fastest.
Bailey, Maurer, and Salter are certainly capable quarterbacks. But Hooker is the quarterback who seems like the most likely candidate to get the first shot at running Tennessee’s new offense.
The good news for Vol fans is that UT finally has a group of coaches that are elite when it comes to developing quarterbacks. That means whoever gets the nod to start will be better prepared for the SEC than any Tennessee quarterback in recent history.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications