4. Arm strength
This is only a key because of things Tyson Helton has talked about. Helton noted back in the spring that he wants to be able to install an offense that uses power runs and deep passes. Arm strength was a consistent thing he talked about.
In fact, when you take all of his quotes into account, arm strength may have been the biggest thing. However, it’s not near the top of our keys. Why? Well, look at the history of offenses he has run. That was never a thing.
With the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, he looked for mismatches with small receivers and used a quick release from Brandon Doughty to make big plays. Then, as passing game coordinator with the USC Trojans, Helton oversaw Sam Darnold. For all his talents, Darnold was the worst deep-ball passer in the Pac-12 last year. It clearly wasn’t a focus.
So what makes things different this year? Well, the best guess is that Helton has never really had a quarterback to throw the deep ball. He does as Tennessee football’s offensive coordinator in Jarrett Guarantano. So this particular key is one that works in Guarantano’s favor. That’s also true with JT Shrout, a guy he clearly wanted.
Taking into account Helton’s comments and the type of quarterback the Vols are recruiting, arm strength does matter. So it will be a factor in this year’s quarterback race. But it’s also true that the Vols can win without it. That’s why it’s not higher on the list.