Josh Heupel is about to begin his first official preseason for Tennessee football. A mass exodus of players and the addition of a ton of new players via the transfer portal and recruiting makes it hard to know exactly what the depth chart will look like when the Vols take the field in a month.
That’s what fall camp is for, though. It’s all about figuring out which players can work their way into the rotation based on how they perform now and what they may have done in the spring if they partook. As we get set to predict UT’s roster, all of that will come into play.
We’ll break it down to make sure 22 players are named on offense and defense each, even if we go three-deep at one position. Then we’ll name 12 players on special teams, as there are technically six roles on that front. This is our depth chart projection for Tennessee football’s 2021 season.
1. Joe Milton III
Although the Michigan Wolverines transfer didn’t play during the spring, it’s clear that Josh Heupel is favoring Joe Milton. He recruited Milton when he was offensive coordinator of the Missouri Tigers, and Milton is the one quarterback on the roster he signed. Heupel touted Milton specifically at SEC Media Days over everybody else.
The 6’5″ 244-pound redshirt junior is a pocket passer who can be a dual-threat. Last year, his first starting, Milton played six games, completing 80 of 141 passes for 1,077 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions while running it 38 times for 109 yards and a TD. In Heupel’s system, though, he’s likely to be much more effective.
2. Harrison Bailey
Of the three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster during spring practice, Harrison Bailey was the best, outdueling Brian Maurer and Virginia Tech Hokies transfer Hendon Hooker. He was the only player to account for multiple touchdowns while not turning the ball over.
Last year, Bailey completed 48 of 68 passes for 578 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. His pocket presence was bad, but working under Heupel, Alex Golesh and Joey Halzle should help that. Based on his play so far, though, he’s clearly the No. 2 QB right now.