According to multiple media outlets and now Chryst himself, the Tennessee Volunteers will add Keller Chryst into the mix at quarterback. Chryst will leave Stanford after graduating to join the Volunteers and will be eligible to play immediately.
For Tennessee, this was a move that had to be made. You saw them go after Gardner Minshew, too. It was clear that they wanted another arm in the quarterbacks room — probably one with a little more experience.
Both Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride saw action last season in limited fashion. Guarantano dealt with injuries down the stretch, playing behind what was one of the most banged up offensive lines that you could find. It’s hard to evaluate either guy fairly, simply due to the change in scheme and overall lack of experience.
Now Keller Chryst steps into the fold — a guy that’s started 13 games and appeared in 10 more for Stanford over the past couple of seasons. I reached out to Rule of Tree — SBNation’s Stanford site for more information on Tennessee’s newest addition. Jack Blanchat gave me his breakdown.
“I’d say Keller’s strengths are that he’s got a really powerful arm and defenders bounce off him.” Blanchat said. “He’s a strong dude and he plays like it. However, his weakness is that he’s sometimes really slow to process from the pocket. He can stare down receivers and get flat footed back there, which can bog down an offense while he’s looking, trying to make those big plays that can snap an offense out of neutral.”
That jives with my opinion of Chryst from the limited tape out there. He looks the part, but doesn’t feel pressure all that well. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket if that first or second read didn’t come free. The good news is that Chryst has the ability to move around — and like Blanchat said — defenders bounce off of his 6-5, 230+ frame. He can use those legs to extend plays and make things happen downfield.
So what happened at Stanford? Chryst was never able to consistently put it all together, according to Blanchat.
“He never seemed to make that next jump at Stanford,” Blanchat said. “He was seen as the heavy favorite to win the starting job two years ago, but was beaten out by Ryan Burns. This year, Keller just never seemed to have any consistency, and he was frequently slow to make decisions and was taking a lot of sacks. Maybe that has because he was recovering from an ACL tear, but he was definitely outplayed by K.J. Costello as well, who brought some more energy to the Stanford offense.”
While I think most would agree that Tennessee got an upgrade in Chryst, it’s important to keep expectations in check. In 13 career starts, Chryst eclipsed the 200 passing yards mark just twice. He’s a guy that’s struggled with efficiency, completing just 55 percent of his passes.
The job certainly isn’t going to be handed to him, but I’d guess his experience does win out eventually. As the young quarterbacks learn the new system, Chryst can bridge the gap while Guarantano, McBride and JT Shrout get comfortable with Tyson Helton’s offense.
Above all else, Chryst makes the quarterback room a body deeper — we saw how important that can be last year down the stretch.