Tennessee has primarily played one quarterback under center this season, and that’s been redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano. But grad transfer Keller Chryst has seen some action this season as well, appearing in four games but not making any starts. Those two are the only quarterbacks to take snaps for the Vols this season.
But according to head coach Jeremy Pruitt, they’re preparing a third quarterback just in case he needs to play.
Pruitt spoke to reporters after practice on Wednesday, and he was asked about the Vols’ depth chart at quarterback. Freshman quarterback J.T. Shrout has been practicing with the scout team since the season began, but he swapped places with sophomore Will McBride this week. Now McBride has been with the scout team, and Shrout has been the de facto No. 3 quarterback for UT.
“We’re just trying to get J.T. ready to play,” Pruitt said after practice on Wednesday. “He spent the first half of the year on the scout team. All of our quarterbacks take reps in practice. We do a lot of good-on-good stuff, but when you start preparing for an opponent, you’re only going to work two guys. You might let a third guy get just a few reps, but not many, so they’ve got to take mental reps. (Shrout) worked the first half of the year on the scout team, and we’ve swapped him and Will, but they both take reps in practice in good-on-good.”
After making a start and appearing in another game last season, McBride has yet to make an appearance for the Vols this season. In fact, he didn’t even travel with the team to South Carolina this past weekend as part of the reduced travel roster that football teams take on away games.
Shrout hasn’t made any appearances either, and even if he took snaps in the Vols’ last four games of the regular season, he would be eligible to redshirt thanks to the new redshirt rules passed by the NCAA prior to this season.
Coming out of high school, Shrout was the No. 643 overall player and No. 26 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He impressed at camps over that summer heading into his senior season, and he really stood out to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Shrout only started at quarterback for one season, his senior year, in high school and completed just 51 percent of his passes for 3,064 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions.
This season was always going to be about developing and learning for Shrout, but Pruitt speaks as if the 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman might get to see some playing time over the last month of the season.
The Vols will host Charlotte for homecoming this upcoming Saturday, then they host Kentucky and Missouri for the next two weekends. Tennessee closes out the regular season by playing Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Shrout may get to see some playing time this weekend if the Vols can get a big enough lead against Charlotte, but otherwise it appears Pruitt and his staff are preparing the freshman in case Tennessee sustains multiple injuries at quarterback. Guarantano has had to leave a couple games early this season due to taking big hits, but he’s not missed a start all year.