The biggest storyline for the Vols this fall has been Tennessee’s quarterback battle. There are four participants in the battle for the Vols’ starting quarterback job: Stanford grad transfer Keller Chryst, redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano, sophomore Will McBride, and freshman J.T. Shrout. Realistically, though, Chryst and Guarantano are the two main combatants in the fight for the starting job.
And according to Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, neither of those players have separated themselves in the competition for the starting position.
“If you look over all the practices, really nobody has separated themselves yet,” Pruitt said to the media on Sunday following Tennessee’s first scrimmage of the fall. “Through nine practices, I have a good idea about the first eight. Today, I’ll have to watch the tape because I was really involved watching a lot of things. Both of them have done some really good stuff, talking about (Guarantano) and Keller (Chryst).”
Tennessee’s fall camp is nearing the halfway mark, and Sunday was just the Vols’ first scrimmage of the fall. So there’s no urgency just yet to name a starting quarterback, and the Vols will have another scrimmage next week to see how the players have progressed after another week. But it’s telling that both Chryst and Guarantano are essentially neck and neck after almost a week and a half of practice.
Pruitt didn’t just limit his analysis to the two most experienced quarterbacks on the Vols’ roster, though. He was also encouraged by things he saw from Tennessee’s two other scholarship quarterbacks.
“Will McBride played today with our twos a lot, and Will has had a solid camp,” Pruitt added. “J.T. Shrout, he may have the best arm out of all of them. But he’s gotta learn what’s going on. He can spin it, but he’s just gotta figure it out.”
Realistically, McBride and Shrout will serve as Tennessee’s backup options to both Chryst and Guarantano this season. But who will be the Vols’ starter when they take the field on September 1st against West Virginia?
The Vols ran through 116 plays during their scrimmage on Sunday in Neyland Stadium according to Pruitt. And while he’s yet to review the tape from the scrimmage, Pruitt says that right now Tennessee’s coaches are “a long way” from naming starters at any position, not just quarterback.
Pruitt has preached the importance of competition time and time again this fall, and it would go against that message if he and his staff named a starter at quarterback this early into fall camp. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton will want to see as much of his two main quarterbacks as he can before he and Pruitt make a final decision on who will start for Tennessee.
There’s no timetable as of yet for when the Vols will name their starting quarterback. For all we know, UT’s starting signal caller could be a mystery to the public up until kickoff of Tennessee’s first game.
But as of right now, the most talked about battle on Tennessee’s roster is still ongoing.