6’5″ 244 pounds; Hometown: Pahokee, Fla.
The backfield is crucial in general to Josh Heupel’s system. However, while the running backs as a totality may be more important, they have to split time. As a result, to nobody’s surprise, the top impact player for Tennessee football will be the quarterback.
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Josh Heupel shocked absolutely nobody when he named Michigan Wolverines transfer Joe Milton III the starter over Harrison Bailey and Virginia Tech Hokies graduate transfer Hendon Hooker. Milton was the one player in the group he signed, and that was even the case when Kaidon Salter and Brian Maurer were in the program.
Heck, Heupel recruited Milton out of Olympia High School in Florida’s Orange County, just outside of Orlando, when he was offensive coordinator of the Missouri Tigers. These two go back, and Milton’s big arm and decent mobility combined with Heupel’s schemes could work wonders.
Last year, Milton went 2-3 as a starter and only had four touchdowns to four interceptions. However, Heupel’s system relies on a lot more deep balls while still utilizing the traditional horizontal attacks that come with the spread. Milton will either be throwing screens or bombs, something that is perfect for a guy with a cannon who isn’t always the most accurate.
Whether or not Milton remains the starter all year for Tennessee football remains to be seen. He seems like he’s clearly Heupel’s guy, and that’s enough for us to put him atop this list. However, it’s only to start the season. This could all change in a hurry.