Though a lot of Vol fans may not like him, Gary Danielson tends to know what he’s talking about when it comes to quarterbacks. Danielson has served as the color commentator and an analyst for CBS Sports for the last decade-plus, but before that he was a quarterback himself. He started for Purdue in college and spent over a decade in the NFL, appearing in 101 games.
To say Danielson knows what it takes to play quarterback is an understatement. And he shared his thoughts on the Vols’ quarterback battle in a recent interview.
Danielson appeared on the Vols Wire Podcast this week, and he was asked about Tennessee’s two main contenders for the starting quarterback job in 2018. And according to Danielson, he thinks Stanford grad transfer Keller Chryst could be a great fit for the Vols this season.
“Keller is a real gamer,” Danielson told Dan Harralson of Vols Wire. “I really like what he brings to the table with his experience. He’s a big, strong guy, and he has a coaching background with his family. We got to see him play in the Sun Bowl, but I’ve also watched his tape a number of times and watched him in practice. He has a lot of natural ability, big and strong, and I think a good fit for a transitional football team.”
Chryst not only has more collegiate experience than the rest of Tennessee’s quarterbacks combined, but he also is more familiar with the type of offensive system the Vols are looking to run this season. Tyson Helton’s offense will have more pro-style schemes and feature a more power running style. Those are all features of the offense Chryst ran while at Stanford.
Not only that, but Chryst had plenty of success during his time as Stanford’s starting quarterback, going 11-2 as a starter with a 19-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio.
But Chryst only completed just over 55 percent of his pass attempts while at Stanford, and only three of his 11 victories as a starter came against teams that finished the year with a winning record. Still, Danielson likes what he’s seen in the past from Chryst, and his experience could help a relatively inexperienced Tennessee offense this year.
Chryst isn’t the only quarterback vying for UT’s starting job, though. Redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano started six games for the Vols last year, and he wants to begin the 2018 season as the Vols’ starter once again. He’s shown plenty of potential in both the spring and fall this year, and Danielson likes what the future has in store for UT’s young quarterback.
“I have to say that Jarrett Guarantano really surprised me this year,” Danielson stated. “The way he played, I know he got off to a start that was a little bit rocky with that televised game against Georgia Tech when he was on the sideline and kind of fell out of favor. But I thought he handled himself great (after that game). I thought he kept his nose to the grindstone, he did his homework, got ready to play. When he played, he competed very hard. I thought he showed he was a great teammate, a great representative.
“I think he’s got a bright future, I really do. I like the way he grew, but he needs to get bigger and stronger, and I’m sure he is. I really can’t wait to see him. I’m gonna come up to camp this year before the West Virginia game and spend the day there and get to look at him.”
Danielson hasn’t had a chance to see how much Guarantano has changed since last season yet, but he thinks Tennessee’s new offensive system will be a big benefit to the redshirt sophomore.
“I think the change in the offensive style will be great for Jarrett,” Danielson continued. “Really looking forward to how he progresses with the football team as Jeremy (Pruitt) tries to, in my opinion, build the team a little more balanced than it’s been in the past.”
Guarantano completed 61.9 percent of his 139 pass attempts for 997 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions last season in six starts and nine total appearances for the Vols. He and Chryst will continue to battle it out until Tennessee’s coaches make a decision on who will start on September 1st in Week 1 against West Virginia.