Tennessee football: J.T. Shrout transfer Jeremy Pruitt’s third QB failure

Tennessee quarterback J.T. Shrout (12) warms up before a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.
Tennessee quarterback J.T. Shrout (12) warms up before a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. /

Two Tennessee football Volunteers quarterbacks entered the portal within a week.

When Jeremy Pruitt first took over as Tennessee football head coach, he pulled the scholarship offer to 2018 four-star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. After Adrian Martinez followed suit and decommitted, Pruitt secured commitments from J.T. Shrout and graduate transfer Keller Chryst.

This past year, Penix led Tom Allen’s Indiana Hoosiers to a 5-1 record, only losing by a touchdown to the Ohio State Buckeyes. He averaged nearly 280 total yards a game and has scored 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions.

Shrout, meanwhile, after splitting time with Harrison Bailey in Tennessee football’s final three games of this season, has entered the transfer portal. He confirmed his decision to do so Wednesday evening on Twitter.

It’s safe to say that pulling the offer to Penix in favor of Shrout was a massive failure by Jeremy Pruitt. However, that’s one of three failures by Pruitt dating back to when he took the job that are, at this point, indisputable.

Remember, as we mentioned, Pruitt also brought in Chryst from the Stanford Cardinal that year. As a graduate transfer, Chryst was clearly led to believe that he’d have a fair chance to compete for the starting job.

However, Pruitt and Tyson Helton went with Jarrett Guarantano, who started every game that year. Chryst only saw action in three games despite being more experienced in the pro-style and more accurate than Guarantano. That was another failure by Pruitt.

More from All for Tennessee

Then there’s the failure Pruitt had with Guarantano himself. After starting every game in 2018, Guarantano lost his starting job at one point each of the next two seasons. He earned it back in 2019 but didn’t in 2020, and he announced his decision Saturday to transfer, three days before Shrout made the move.

So let’s recap. Pruitt rejected a quarterback who would eventually become a winner at another school in favor of a pro-style quarterback who eventually transferred and a graduate transfer who never played. Pruitt never played the graduate transfer in order to go with the youth movement of another quarterback who lost his starting job twice and eventually transferred too.

Simply put, it’s safe to say Pruitt appears to have no idea what he’s doing at quarterback. Shrout, Chryst and Guarantano have all been evidence of failures by him. People want to say Tennessee football needs a quarterback, but at what point does it fall on the coaching?

Now, it appears Pruitt is putting all his eggs in the baskets of Bailey, who was once a five-star, and Kaidon Salter, a dual-threat four-star who has already signed for the 2021 class. Brian Maurer could still be in there, but he’s likely the odd man out.

We can’t designate any of those as a Pruitt failure yet. However, given his track record with Shrout, Chryst and Guarantano, why should anybody believe that he’ll have success with these guys? Remember, Shrout and Chryst are people Pruitt recruited specifically, and Guarantano is one he stuck by no matter what.

Next. What's been reported on UT's NCAA probe. dark

There appears to be no consistency with how Tennessee football has managed its quarterbacks under Pruitt. At some point, the poor play has to be a reflection of him. The transfer of quarterbacks Pruitt actively brought in or stood by is a major indictment against him.