7. Backup quarterback
J.T. Shrout; Brian Maurer
Given the hits Jarrett Guarantano took last year, backup quarterback is clearly a crucial role. And, as Jeremy Pruitt said at SEC Media Days, that is a concern for Tennessee football since Guarantano is the only quarterback on the roster who has ever taken a snap of college ball.
However, Pruitt did secure two quarterbacks who are a great fit for the system he wants to run in different ways. He and Tyson Helton at the time specifically targeted J.T. Shrout in their 2018 class. They even pushed away two mobile quarterbacks who had committed to Butch Jones and stayed through the coaching change just to get Shrout.
And Shrout is the favorite to play backup this year. He’s more built in the mold of Guarantano, including having a big arm, being the same weight at 213 pounds and being just one inch shorter at 6’3″. That big arm makes him a great fit for Jim Chaney’s system, and him as the No. 2 guy can help with some continuity in the offense.
Brian Maurer won’t go away quietly, though. A three-star commitment in the Vols’ 2019 recruiting class, Maurer stood out in the spring game with his ability to run an up-tempo offense. He doesn’t have Shrout’s or Guarantano’s arm. But the 6’3″ 193-pound true freshman showed he can command an offense and keep things moving.
As a result, this truly is a battle. Shrout is the favorite, but that’s just based on projections. There’s nobody set in the No. 2 backup quarterback role just yet, and that could make this year’s fall camp very interesting.