Tennessee’s quarterback room will be a crowded one at the start of spring practices. The Vols are slated to have five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster at the start of the spring, and that doesn’t included walk-on Maryland transfer Kasim Hill.
Most of the attention at UT’s quarterback position will be on whether or not incoming freshman Harrison Bailey can unseat rising redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano as the starter. But the Vols also added a very intriguing and dynamic athlete to their quarterback room along with Bailey in the 2020 class.
On the first day of the early signing period in December, Tennessee flipped TCU commit Jimmy Holiday over to their 2020 signing class. The three-star athlete doesn’t have the rankings of Bailey or other Vol signees, but that’s because he hasn’t been evaluated since March by 247Sports. Plus, it’s unclear if he’ll end up playing quarterback in college or if he’ll eventually transition to wide receiver.
But the early enrollee will be getting a shot at quarterback to start his UT career, and Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is excited about the potential the young athlete from Mississippi brings.
“Jimmy Holiday’s a guy that’s a phenomenal athlete,” Pruitt said of Holiday in December. “He’s kind of one of these guys that you’re seeing that’s changing the game in pro football right now with his versatility of how he can run the football, different types of run games that he can do. He’s a guy that anytime he has the ball in his hands, has a chance to go the distance for a touchdown.”
Pruitt didn’t outright come out and compare Holiday to Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, but that’s who a lot of analysts and fans have compared Holiday to when watching his film.
Though Jackson’s season ended in disappointing fashion in the playoffs with a loss to the Tennessee Titans, the second-year quarterback lit the NFL on fire during the regular season, throwing for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just six interceptions while also running for 1,206 yards and seven scores on 176 carries.
Many analysts and even former NFL executives said Jackson should move to wide receiver coming out of Louisville. But Jackson stuck at quarterback and looks to be revolutionizing the position. Could Jimmy Holiday follow that same mold?
Holiday was laser-timed running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at a regional camp for Nike’s The Opening back in March of 2019, and he showed off a 34.7-inch vertical leap as well. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete played quarterback for Madison Central High School in Madison, Mississippi, and he was dangerous every time he had the ball in his hands.
As a senior, Holiday completed 63.5 percent of his 148 pass attempts for 1,020 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions while running for 1,401 yards and 21 touchdowns on 162 carries according to MaxPreps. In three years at Madison Central, Holiday threw for 3,507 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions and ran for 3,568 yards and 51 touchdowns.
It’s clear from watching Holiday’s film that he still has work to do as a quarterback, and he has plenty of improvement to make if he wants to work as a passer in college. But Holiday’s athleticism can’t be denied, and his speed and shiftiness separate him from anyone else in Tennessee’s QB room and probably from anyone else on the Vols’ entire roster.
Holiday will eventually have to decide if quarterback is his position of the future or if he needs to switch to receiver. For now, he’ll be getting a shot at QB, and he’ll bring an exciting element to Tennessee’s quarterback competition.