Our countdown comes to a close today with Tennessee’s most important player — the quarterback. I know we cheated a little bit here, but the Vols’ most important piece will be Jarrett Guarantano or Keller Chryst, assuming JT Shrout or Will McBride can’t pull off a massive upset.
Chryst, the experienced Stanford grad-transfer, gives Tennessee some veteran presence in the huddle. The senior quarterback threw 19 touchdowns against just six interceptions during his time at Stanford. However, the 6-5, 240 pounder was benched due to ineffectiveness last season. He lost his job to K.J. Costello, who took the gig and ran with it in 2017. Chryst immediately became the favorite to win the job when he announced his intentions to transfer to Tennessee, but he’s playing catchup right now to redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano.
Guarantano — by most accounts — currently has the lead in the quarterback race.
Per @betmybookie, the latest odds on Tennessee's starting QB?— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) August 8, 2018
Keller Chryst is the favorite at -185. Jarrett Guarantano is +160. These numbers should be flipped based on intel and what we've seen in practice.
It does make some sense too. We’re still in the beginning stages of camp and Keller Chryst is still getting to know the playbook. Guarantano had the added benefit of going through spring practice, which essentially served as the install period.
Guarantano looked solid in the spring game, making confident passes and getting through his reads quicker than he did in 2017. His first team offense won the day, beating up on the white squad which featured Tennessee’s first team defense. I don’t think we’re close to calling this race by any means, but it does seem like it’s Guarantano’s job to lose.
Whichever man wins the battle will be tasked with leading Tyson Helton’s new look offense, which should feature a return to pro-style concepts. Helton said last week that his offense will be multiple and able to win in different ways.
Tennessee has a fairly stout receiver depth chart entering 2018, featuring the return of Jauan Jennings and the explosive Marquez Callaway. Tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson will provide another huge target that can create problems in the middle of the field.
All of this to say — the talent well is far from dry in Knoxville. Whichever man wins this job will have weapons at his disposal, it’s just a matter of getting the ball to those weapon. That’s why either Jarrett Guarantano or Keller Chryst is Tennessee’s most important player of 2018.