Tennessee is in the market for a grad transfer quarterback. They’ve been pursuing several over the last month, and they hosted former Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst this weekend. But Chryst isn’t the only grad transfer quarterback the Vols’ coaching staff is still in contact with.
The Vols have expressed interested in East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew. And while they haven’t made a formal offer to him yet, Minshew has interest in Tennessee as well.
According to an interview he did with Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Minshew finds Tennessee “very intriguing” because of the Vols’ unsettled situation at quarterback. Right now, the Vols have just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in rising redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano and rising sophomore Will McBride. True freshman J.T. Shrout is set to join them after the spring as part of the Vols’ 2018 signing class.
“We’ve been talking a lot,” Minshew told Feldman about his contact with Tennessee’s coaches. “They want me to compete for the job in the spring.”
And because of how the University of Tennessee’s semesters work, Minshew would be able to come in right away and start competing as soon as the Vols could get the paperwork signed. Tennessee has mini-terms within their semesters, so Minshew could enroll this spring and jump right into spring practices.
“If it were to work out, I’d be in school in there next Thursday,” Minshew said. “I feel like I fit what they do.”
During his career at ECU, Minshew completed 57.9 percent of his 506 pass attempts for 3,487 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He played in 17 games and made seven starts, including five last season. Minshew didn’t have much to work with at ECU, as the Pirates went just 6-18 during his two seasons there. Minshew joined ECU before the 2016 season as a JUCO quarterback. He originally signed with Troy out of high school but ended up going to junior college instead of playing with the Trojans.
Minshew played two Power Five schools while at ECU (West Virginia, Virginia Tech) and was 18-of-43 for 378 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception. ECU lost those two games by a combined score of 120 to 37.
Despite his team’s inability to win while he was there, Minshew told Feldman he was embraced by his teammates, and he learned how to become a leader on the field.
“I’m a leader,” he stated. “I was a team captain in my second year at East Carolina. On the field, I feel like I’m accurate and I make good decisions. Being able to prepare mentally for the games is something I really take pride in.”
But the Vols aren’t the only SEC team looking to add Minshew. Alabama and Auburn both have been in contact with Minshew, and he visited Alabama’s campus this weekend. He says the big appeal for the Crimson Tide, who have a loaded quarterback depth chart with Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, is how they can help him after his playing days are over.
“I want to get into coaching after my playing career is done,” Minshew said. “Being around that atmosphere and to be around Coach Saban would be such an invaluable experience.”
Tennessee is doing everything they can to add a fifth-year quarterback to their roster. And it appears it’s now down to Minshew and Chryst. Either quarterback would be instant competition for the Vols’ starting quarterback spot, and either would provide valuable depth and experience that Tennessee lacks at that position.