Tennessee’s quarterback competition is on the mind of every coach, player, reporter, and fan as the Vols began their fall camp this week. And while most have a pick of which quarterback they think will win the job, Vegas has also entered their selection in the mix.
On Thursday, Sportsbook.Ag released their lines for “Tennessee Starting QB in 2021 Season Opener”. The order is as follows:
Joe Milton -175
Harrison Bailey +190
Hendon Hooker +400
Brian Maurer +550
Michigan transfer Joe Milton has been the prediction for many people, even though he never practiced in the spring. Milton officially transferred to Tennessee after coach Josh Heupel wrapped up his first spring camp. After he got off to a rocky start at Michigan, Milton found Tennessee as a place where he could get a fresh start. And after a successful hand surgery this off-season, Milton also found a brand-new approach to the game.
“Every day I walk into the building, it’s a new me,” Milton said on Tuesday. “Last year, I lost it, and I know what it feels like to have half of your body and half of your hand. So it’s just a new me.”
Harrison Bailey is the most-favored out of the other three as the sophomore prepares to enter his second season with the Vols. Bailey appeared at quarterback six times in 2020 for Tennessee. In those six appearances, the freshman completed 48 of his 68 passes. Although, no Tennessee quarterback had a chance to settle into the role during the disastrous season. So just like Milton, Bailey is looking for a fresh start of his own.
To continue with an interesting trend, the third favorite among the four is another transfer. Hendon Hooker transferred from Virginia Tech to Tennessee in 2021 and did participate in spring practice. It is fascinating to note that two of Tennessee’s three highest favored players to win the job are transfer players. Although, it does mainly point to the amount of change Tennessee has gone through this off-season in a broad sense. Just two practices in, there isn’t much carryover from the previous staff to the current staff.
For a Tennessee team that lost their leading passer, rusher, and receiver, along with their entire coaching staff, there isn’t much of a blueprint to look at and translate. Not to mention, even if there was, that blueprint reads, “3-7”. Therefore, everyone gets a fair opportunity, and each starting job must be earned all over again.
The last Tennessee quarterback that was listed was Brian Maurer. The redshirt-sophomore appeared in 12 games during his career, although only four came in 2020. Maurer has widely been considered a talented quarterback, but one that early injuries have held back. Since he arrived on campus, Maurer has suffered a concussion and a pulled hamstring, along with two knee surgeries.
So, in their own way, each Tennessee quarterback has a reason behind a fresh start in 2021. And with the arrival of coach Heupel and his staff, each quarterback will have the opportunity to earn the position for Tennessee. And as for Vegas, they believe that will be Joe Milton.
Tennessee took the field on Thursday morning for their second fall camp practice in the Heupel era. You can watch video highlights of all four quarterbacks from their session on Thursday by clicking the link here.