If things play out as they traditionally do, Tennessee will be looking for a quarterback during spring camp, throughout the summer and into fall camp. At least, that will be the talking points that the Vols will convey as they try to replace Hendon Hooker.
It seems unlikely that Tennessee will announce a starter during the offseason. Why not keep senior Joe Milton III, freshman Tayven Jackson and soon-to-be enrollee Nico Iamaleava working hard for the starting position? Why give any of them reason to transfer with an early starter announcement? There’s no need to simply hand the ball off to any of the three considering none have played at an elite level in college.
There’s also no reason to solely depend on the trio, especially when the only quarterback with significant experience, Milton, has accuracy issues that just don’t seem to be going away. Listen, the chances are that the Vols will have very good quarterback play from one of the triplets, but with the transfer portal and the lure of playing for Tennessee’s offense, why risk it? So, as I’ve suggested all along, the Vols should pick up a quarterback in the transfer portal.
Here are some names to keep an eye on that have entered the portal and one that might:
Devin Leary of N.C. State was the ACC preseason player of the year before the 2022 season, started six games and suffered a shoulder injury. That’s a concern, but there are benefits to picking up Leary.
“He’s one of the more efficient passers in the country, doesn’t turn the ball over and his arm is on another level,” 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong said Monday on 247Sports’ YouTube show. “Certainly you hope he’s healed and able to get back to the point he was at in that 2021 season at NC State where he was a Johnny Unitas finalist.”
Hudson Card of Texas is another interesting prospect for the Vols to take a look at. Card has played in meaningful games for the Longhorns in relief of starter Quinn Ewers when he was injured. As a backup, Card completed 69.4-percent of his passes.
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders has also entered the transfer portal, but he’s also thrown 40 interceptions during his career. That’s not a good fit for Tennessee coach Josh Heupel’s offense.
Clemson D.J. Uiagalelei has announced he will transfer from Clemson. However, this doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade over Milton.
Other quarterbacks will enter the transfer portal. After all, it’s only been open since Monday. There will be a surprise and a premier quarterback on the market. That quarterback would be wise to look at Tennessee’s offense and its uncertain quarterback future.
How about Spencer Rattler? There are rumblings he wasn’t real happy with how he was utilized for the majority of last season. Now, thanks to wins over Tennessee and Clemson, he has some weight to throw around in the portal, which means NIL money could easily come into play.
Would the Vols welcome him into the fold? Certainly, as long as he could help them win. Should there be concern that he’s already transferred once? That doesn’t seem to matter any longer.