Tennessee’s 2022 class was a struggle at times, but it came together nicely at the end of the cycle. Josh Heupel and his staff got a late start and spent much of the spring and summer months simply trying to build relationships.
What really wasn’t a struggle though was the quarterback position. Heupel made a last minute effort to lure top in-state passer Ty Simpson, but the timing of that situation was working against them. However, they quickly snatched up Tayven Jackson, who never once wavered from his Tennessee pledge.
The four-star quarterback ranks just outside of the top 200 players in the class, per 247Sports. He’s set to enroll in a couple of weeks, ready to get started in Heupel’s offense.
“He’s a two-time state champion,” Heupel said on early signing day. “He comes from an elite program and understands the work habits that you have to have to go achieve something individually and collectively as a team. I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he’s going to be as a quarterback.”
Standing in at 6-4, 195 pounds, Jackson has ideal size for the position. He has the athleticism that this staff clearly values, doubling as a basketball star for Center Grove High School in Indiana. Jackson didn’t put up massive numbers at the high school level, but he didn’t have the opportunity to do so either. Most recruiting analysts say he needs some seasoning, thanks to that limited exposure as a passer, but the tools are obvious.
“He’s got a long frame and is going to continue to build that out,” Heupel said. “He has the ability to use his feet both in the pocket and out of the pocket to make plays down the field as a passer. He has the ability to use his feet as a weapon as well. I think that’s only going to increase as he gains confidence in his body. He’s got a very compact type of delivery. As he understands and learns some fundamental things, I think he’s going to have a chance to spread the ball sideline to sideline and vertically down the field.
“He’s an elite basketball player I watched some of his basketball tape. He’s got great spatial awareness, which is something that I think is important and correlates over to playing the quarterback position, as he understands bodies in motion and understands windows. We’re really excited about him.”
As a senior, Jackson completed 124 of 187 attempts, throwing for 1,842 yards and 21 touchdowns. He threw just three interceptions, while adding five touchdowns on the ground.
Jackson enters the Tennessee quarterback picture behind Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton. Appalachian State transfer Navy Shuler also enters the equation this spring. Hooker will be playing his final season of college football in 2022, while Milton has two seasons left if he wants them. Following the transfers of Harrison Bailey, Brian Maurer and Kaidon Salter, Jackson is set to be in the thick of the quarterback battle entering the 2023 season.