No matter the arm strength or all the talk of his leadership ability and maturity, Tennessee needs another quarterback from the transfer portal to give the Vols another option other than Joe Milton III at quarterback.
No matter his ranking nor his enthusiasm on social media, the Vols need another option from the transfer portal to possibly bridge the gap to five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava.
There are already options in the portal and there will be more. Tennessee needs to take one of them eventually before the portal closes on Jan. 18. It opens on Dec. 5. Vols, be ready.
Why would the Vols need another quarterback when they have Milton, who was a four-star prospect, and Iamaleava, who is the No. 2 prospect in the nation? Simple, the known and unknown.
Here is what we know. Milton has accuracy issues. Now, the same was said about Hendon Hooker and that worked out. The same might happen with Milton. However, it might not. Milton was inaccurate last season and inaccurate last week when the Vols played Vanderbilt. Sure, the weather conditions were bad, but so were his throws.
We also know that Iamaleava is an incredible talent, but there have been countless highly rated high school prospects fall flat in college. There have been even more that needed a season to get up to speed. Iamaleava could be a first-year starter, but there’s certainly no guarantee of that. Iamaleava is listed at 190 pounds, but he looks lighter. He could gain 15 pounds of muscle before the 2023 season and still be undersized.
I’m guessing that Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is already aware of his immediate need at quarterback. Heupel may be holding out hope that Tayven Jackson can return from a broken collarbone. That’s a bit too hopeful for me. Jackson may return, but will he be an elite player? No one knows.
Heupel has proven he can take a good quarterback and make him great. He did that with Hooker. Heupel could sit back and let things play out, hoping to find a quarterback rise out of trio of good options. That seems risky.
The Vols have plenty to offer a quarterback that might not like his current surroundings. Anyone that saw the Vols play knows that. If any quarterback is considering transferring and Heupel offers a place to land, that’s better than a Willy Wonka golden ticket.
Heupel will have to address some departures heading into the 2023 season, but he’s proven he can adapt. Did anyone think Hooker would be a Heisman candidate or receiver Jalin Hyatt would be a Biletnikoff finalist before the season? Did anyone thing that Tennessee’s offensive line would be one of the best in the nation in August?
Expectations will be sky high next season and the schedule is quite manageable. All of that is not worth risking on an unproven quarterback.
Some might fret that picking up a quarterback transfer could scare away Iamaleava. That’s where the old Tennessee mindset has to change. Iamaleava should be as pleased with Tennessee taking him as the Vols are with him choosing Tennessee. Besides, making roster decisions based on a prospect’s preference is a surefire way to have everything go wrong.
The Vols don’t need that. They need another quarterback.