Any football coach will tell you that they want to sign a quarterback in every class. Josh Heupel may have found his guy for 2024.
Jake Merklinger, a four-star quarterback out of Calvary Day (Ga.) School, received a crystal ball projection to Tennessee from 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong.
Merklinger is widely expected to make his college choice soon, and it will come down to North Carolina and Tennessee. The Tar Heels want Merklinger, but the Vols are pushing hard.
Tennessee hosted Merklinger over the weekend. He finished the 2022 season with 1,987 yards and 32 touchdowns on 97-for-145 passing with only two interceptions. He also ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
“I had a great visit,” Merklinger told 247Sports. “I got to spend a lot of quality time with the coaches. And watch them practice! Really enjoyed being around all the coaches and players this weekend.”
The No. 55 player nationally got to enjoy Tennessee baseball with Heupel and also take in spring practice. At 6-foot-2.5 and 195 pounds, Merklinger sits as the No. 6 quarterback in his class.
Recruiting any quarterback, let alone a top guy like Merklinger in the 2024 class, will be tough for the Vols. With five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava highlighting the class of 2023, any quarterback coming in likely knows they will sit for at least two years before getting a chance to see the field.
That’s where the Tar Heels come into play. With Drake Maye on the way out, the job will likely be Merklinger’s to win when he arrives in Chapel Hill, if he chooses to go to North Carolina. But, the question is raised, how much longer will Mack Brown coach?
Follow the visits, Merklinger visited the Vols three times last year and on Saturday. It is clear there is a mutual interest, and Merklinger is trending toward becoming a Vol.