Tennessee Readies For Toughest QB Competition In Years

Tennessee will have its deepest quarterback competition in several years with a mix of a few returners, a graduate transfer and an incoming freshman.

“We have a bunch of talent here,” quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle said last month. “There’s guys that can rip it all over the field. There’s guys that have played a lot of football, which is a good thing. There’s not a solidified starter at this point.”

Virginia Tech graduate transfer Hendon Hooker has 15 career starts, while returners Harrison Bailey and Brian Maurer also have starting experience, Knox News reports.

Incoming four-star freshman Kaidon Salter completes the competition.

Hooker committed to the team under former head coach Jeremy Pruitt and arrived during the height of investigations into whether coaches committed recruiting violations.

Hooker finished his Hokies career with a 63.1% completion percentage, 2,894 passing yards, 37 total touchdowns and seven interceptions, per ESPN.

True freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey played in six games and made three starts. He threw for at least one touchdown in each of his three games. He also started in the season finale. 

Sophomore QB Brian Maurer has played in 12 games and made four starts during his career in Tennessee.

As a true freshman, he made appearances in eight games and made four starts. During that time, he completed 35-of-75 passes for 541 yards and two touchdowns against five interceptions.

He showed impressive ability to scramble and escape pass rushers. He finished with 56 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground during the 2019 season.

His sophomore season in 2020 allowed for action in four games, when he completed two passes for nine yards and rushing five times for 41 yards on the year.

Elite incoming four-star QB Kaidon Salter also adds to the contest with 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns through the air over his career with just 14 interceptions. The incoming freshman added 1,063 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Vols head coach Josh Heupel will likely walk into spring practice without a starting quarterback, but the Orange and White spring game in April may give fans a sneak peek into the direction the team is leaning.

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