From the first few days of camp, you could tell offensive coordinator Alex Golesh was thrilled about having quarterback Joe Milton on the roster. The Michigan transfer has every physical tool you could possibly want, but he was unable to put it all together last season as a starter. He now joins Tennessee with a new opportunity, playing in a much more quarterback friendly offense.
As we wrap up camp, Milton is widely expected to be named the starting quarterback after taking first team reps last week. It’s an impressive rise for Milton, who didn’t go through spring practices with Tennessee. That meant learning a new system over the summer, and then playing catch-up in fall camp.
“He’s really done a good job, really a great job, of fitting in, adjusting, learning, growing,” Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh said on Wednesday. “He spent a bunch of time in May, June, July learning the system. He’s a football smart young man. He’s played in games that matter. So for him it’s just been a terminology, a progression, a read.”
The former four-star prospect has been battling it out with former Virginia Tech starter Hendon Hooker, and former elite prospect Harrison Bailey. Milton likely brings the best blend of arm talent and athleticism, which should open up the Tennessee offense for Josh Heupel in year one.
Heupel’s system has been a mainstay in the top ten of total offense year by year. Even going back to his days at Missouri, Heupel has produced on the statsheet at every opportunity. Now faced with his toughest challenge to date, how quickly can he get things off of the ground in Knoxville? The answer to that question might just lie on Joe Milton’s shoulders.
“I think Joey (Halzle) has done an incredible job with him, doing the very best he can to prepare him,” Golesh said. “Really all of those quarterbacks, all three of those guys. Putting them in tough situations, tried to create tough situations in practices and scrimmages. But I think Joe has caught on really, really well. He’s progressed, he’s gotten better.”
Tennessee kicks things off next Thursday night against a Bowling Green team that really struggled last season. The Vols are favored by well over 30 points, so it should provide a nice opportunity for Milton, and possibly Bailey and or Hooker, to get their feet wet in a game setting.