For the first time in a couple of years in Knoxville, there’s not much intrigue surrounding the quarterback battle. This is Jarrett Guarantano’s job. However, we don’t know much of anything about the youth sitting behind him.
Redshirt freshman JT Shrout and true freshman Brian Maurer will provide depth for Tennessee at the position this season. Each are taking reps and getting comfortable in Jim Chaney’s offense this spring.
“Both guys have good arms,” Jeremy Pruitt said of his young quarterbacks. “They have good athletic ability. They’ve got to speed up — they’ve got to take care of the football. Arm talent is not an issue, but if you’re throwing the ball late it’s not a good thing.”
That’s not a surprising comment from Pruitt, considering each passer’s lack of experience within the offensive system. Both Maurer and Shrout could actually be on equal ground this spring, despite Shrout’s redshirt season in 2018. Each guy is learning Chaney’s offense this spring in hopes of being Guarantano’s backup for the 2019 season.
But the hardest thing for a young passer is the mental part. Understanding the reads and progressions comes with time. It sounds like both guys are working through those growing pains this spring.
“You’ve got to know where to start in your progressions,” Pruitt said. “You’ve got to handle the offense. You’ve got to get them in and out of the huddle. You’ve got to be a good communicator. You’ve got to be demanding and they both need to improve on that, and they will.”
Shrout and Maurer are each former three-star prospects, coming in with the 2018 and 2019 classes, respectively.
One of the more exciting storylines to follow during the spring game will be watching both of these quarterbacks live for the first time. It will be our first look at what Tennessee has behind Guarantano, which is important without Keller Chryst in the fold this season.
“They’re like a lot of guys on our team, they just need to play ball and get lots of reps,” Pruitt said. “They’ll improve as long as they get an opportunity to do that.”