Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel isn’t ready to sit tight and hope that his current quarterbacks can man the ship this season. He’s open to options.
“You guys know my philosophy on the portal,” Heupel said recently during a Big Orange Caravan stop. “I’ve said it’s a way to supplement your roster. As you look at who is in, you evaluate them. Do they fit? Do they make your roster stronger, deeper, better? So we’ll continue to do that with the names that are in there.”
That means the Vols will have just two scholarship quarterbacks unless a transfer quarterback catches Heupel’s eye. There isn’t long. The transfer portal closed on Sunday. However, athletes in the portal already are still able to commit. If the Vols had to play a third-string quarterback, that duty would likely go to Gaston Moore, who completed eight-of-11 passes for 94 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Orange and White Game last month.
“I thought he did a really nice job,” Heupel said. “For our fans, for you guys, it’s the most action you’ve been able to see him have. I thought he handled it in the spring game, but also the other scrimmages extremely well. Communicates, runs it efficiently and effectively. Guys are in the right spot, he’s continuing to grow. He had a really good spring.”
Heupel could pluck a quarterback from the transfer portal. However, it seems unlikely that a quarterback taken this late in the year could overcome Moore based on the quarterbacks available. Tennessee fans may be a bit uneasy with just having two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. However, let’s be frank. If the Vols lose projected starter Joe Milton III and freshman phenom Nico Iamaleava aren’t able to play this fall, it’s hard to imagine the 2023 season being much of a success with Moore or a quarterback from the portal.
There is one other option for the Vols after Sunday. Tennessee could pick up a graduate transfer. Heupel didn’t rule out picking up another signal caller so that remains to be seen, but it seems the quarterback depth chart isn’t going to change significantly before fall camp.