There’s not much about Tennessee’s 2019 quarterback situation that’s set in stone right now. Fans and players are concerning themselves with how the quarterback battle shakes out for this upcoming season first and foremost, but coaches have to look ahead and plan for the more distant future as well as the more immediate future.
Right now, there’s no guarantee Tennessee will have Jarrett Guarantano on the roster for 2019. He could transfer if he doesn’t win the starting job this year, or he could stay on and prepare for another battle in 2019. Will McBride could leave if he doesn’t feel he’ll be able to truly compete, and that could leave just J.T. Shrout, who’s a true freshman heading into this year, as the Vols’ main backup.
Because of the uncertainty around what could happen with the Vols’ quarterback situation next season, Tennessee’s coaches are looking to add a QB with experience to their roster prior to the 2019 season.
And that’s where Jarrod Hoyer comes in.
Hoyer is a junior college quarterback who plays for Diablo Valley Community College in California. He played in high school at Dougherty Valley High School for his final year, and he’s taken an interesting path to where he is now.
Hoyer’s high school career started out at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, but the long commute from his home to the schools’ campus wore on him and his family after years of going there. So he transferred to Dougherty for his senior season after he suffered a stress fracture in his L4 vertebrae after growing four inches in less than a year.
But when Hoyer got to Dougherty, he didn’t play quarterback because they already had a solidified starter.
“I played receiver in the meantime there,” Hoyer told me in a phone interview. “I actually got hurt after separating my shoulder and missed a few weeks. I was still playing receiver then too.”
Hoyer’s patience paid off, however. Dougherty’s starting quarterback tore his labrum in the eighth week of the season, and Hoyer took over. Unfortunately, though, his team only lasted one round in the playoff, so he only had a couple games to prove himself at quarterback.
And because of that, no colleges were contacting him. So Hoyer decided to go the JUCO route.
Originally, Hoyer went to Laney Community College in Oakland where he grayshirted for a year in football and played baseball in the meantime. But after that first year, Hoyer decided Laney wasn’t for him.
“In the springtime, I just felt like it wasn’t the right fit for me scheme wise,” Hoyer said. “I kinda started looking at other places. I found Diablo Valley, and I went and talked to the coaches, found out they had a spread offense and threw the ball a lot. So I decided to transfer out there.
“I split time with another guy last season, but this year it will be all me.”
According to the school’s website, Hoyer’s first season with Diablo Valley was a successful one when he was actually on the field. He threw for 928 yards, seven touchdowns, and just two interceptions, though he only completed 49.2 percent of his passes.
But as Hoyer said, he’ll be the main man this year and will have a chance to really prove himself.
So how did the 6-foot-5, 220 pound get in contact with Tennessee? A former Vol and current defensive quality control coach for the Vols happened to know a quarterback coach Hoyer had worked with.
Kevin Simon, a former UT linebacker and now an assistant for current head coach Jeremy Pruitt, knows the quarterbacks coach at De La Salle High School who also knows Hoyer’s head coach at Diablo Valley. And according to Hoyer, Tennessee looked at his film and got intrigued.
“I got a call one day, and (Hoyer’s head coach) said the University of Tennessee saw my film and they wanted to talk,” Hoyer stated.
And after a discussion, Hoyer ended up getting invited to attend Tennessee’s Orange & White Game. That visit was his very first visit ever on a recruiting trip for a school interested in him.
“It was unbelievable,” Hoyer said of his visit to Tennessee’s spring game. “I’ve never been on a visit to any schools before. But just being down there, everything is about football down there. It was really cool. The game atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. 65,000 fans for a spring game is crazy.
“I’ve gone to a few other spring games in California, and they’re nothing like that. Being on the field before the game was crazy and was unlike anything I could ever imagine.”
While on his visit, Hoyer got to meet up with Tennessee’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton. And that meeting turned out to be very informative for Hoyer.
“I got to sit in a meeting and be with the quarterbacks and watch the practice and film, which was pretty cool,” Hoyer said. “My impression was that they have a guy coming in from Stanford (Keller Chryst) as a transfer, but (Helton) said for this next year after this year that they’re looking for a guy with experience.
“He said he’s going to try and come out to a spring practice before ours ends in May to check me out. He’s going to continue to monitor me and how my season goes and just go from there.”
Since his visit to Tennessee, Hoyer has started to garner some attention from other schools too. He told me that both UCLA and New Mexico have reached out to him since then he visited Tennessee, but he hasn’t gone on any other visits yet.
Now that he’s starting to finally get interest from schools after a long and winding path to where he is now, Hoyer’s hard work looks like it’s paying off. But he told me he wouldn’t change a single thing about what got him to this point.
“Everybody’s story is different, and I wouldn’t change mine,” Hoyer stated. “I think everything that I’ve learned along the way is very important to who I am. Me going the JUCO route, I got to see things that I normally wouldn’t have gotten to see and experience things I wouldn’t have gotten to experience.
“It’s been eye-opening, and I think it’s been a great challenge and a great test.”