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5 Biggest Storylines for the Vols Entering 2019 Fall Camp

Who Wins the Backup Quarterback Battle?

Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

Barring a major injury or some unforeseen setback, redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano is Tennessee’s starting quarterback in 2019. But Guarantano has yet to make it through an entire season without missing chunks of action on the field, which means there’s a very good chance the Vols’ backup QB sees some playing time in 2019.

But who will be that No. 2 quarterback when that time comes?

Guarantano was knocked out early of Tennessee’s match-up against Southern Miss in his redshirt freshman season in 2017, and he missed UT’s next game against Missouri, prompting then-head coach Butch Jones to start true freshman Will McBride at quarterback. Although Guarantano didn’t miss any starts in 2018, he missed large swaths of a handful of games due to big hits and injuries. Guarantano was taken out early in games against Florida, Alabama, and Missouri last season.

If that happens again this year, Tennessee will be turning to a quarterback who hasn’t taken a single snap in college. But which QB will that be?

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JT Shrout redshirted last season and didn’t appear in any games, and Brian Maurer was a 2019 signee who enrolled early in the spring. Neither player looked remarkably consistent in spring practices, and neither had a particularly strong Orange & White Game performance, either.

Neither Shrout nor Maurer has yet to see action in a collegiate game, and both are likely a major step back in terms of understanding of the offense and ability to not turn the ball over. Shrout was solid as a QB in high school, but he threw 25 interceptions compared to 27 touchdowns as a senior, and Maurer had some issues with interceptions in high school as well, and he tossed a couple picks in the Orange & White Game.

In a perfect world, either Shrout or Maurer only see the field this season in the fourth quarter of some blowouts. But Tennessee’s quarterback situation has been far from a “perfect world” since Josh Dobbs graduated, so figuring out a surefire No. 2 option behind Guarantano is a must.

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