With Tennessee football offensive coordinator Joey Halzle and tight ends coach Alec Abeln in attendance, Vols commitment Jake Merklinger shined for his Calvary Day High School.
Merklinger threw for 275 yards and five touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing in the Georgia 3A State Semifinals. The performance wasn’t enough for his Calvary Day squad who fell to Cedar Grove 49-42.
The four-star quarterback had an impressive senior season. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 38 touchdowns on a 73% completion rate. He only threw two picks on the season. He also ran for 12 touchdowns.
Last week, to keep Calvary Day alive, Merklinger threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns while scoring three touchdowns on the ground.
The quarterback ranks as the No. 114 overall prospect in the 2024 class by 247Sports Composite. He is also the No. 9 quarterback and the No. 16 prospect from Georgia.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback was last in Knoxville to watch Tennessee play Georgia. Merklinger will enroll early with the Vols. He has also been invited to participate in the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 19.
Tennessee head coach has made it a priority to get a quarterback in every class, and Merklinger is the Vols’ lone QB commitment in the 2024 class.
His decision-making and experience in an RPO-esque offense, among other traits, stood out to 247Sports scout Andrew Ivins.
“An athletic quarterback prospect with a multi-sport background that happens to be one of the more experienced signal callers in the 2024 cycle. Not only has posted a 29-9 record as a starter heading into his senior season, but is also closing in on 700 live pass attempts,” Ivins wrote.
“Has operated primarily out of a single-back spread attack on Friday nights and shown plenty of command in the huddle. Mobile and quick enough to turn a scramble into a chunk play, but looks more times than not to win from the pocket. Average arm won’t blow too many away, but can change speeds as a passer and understands how to utilize touch. Has also proven to be rather accurate on the move, at least when targeting the first or second level. No stranger to RPOs and is likely going to find the most success on Saturdays in a balanced offensive scheme that wants its quarterback to function almost like a point guard. Overall, should be viewed as someone that could eventually win games on Saturdays.
“Will need to keep progressing and likely need some time to find his bearings at the college of his choice, but frame (has measured 6-foot-3), solid testing numbers (has gone 4.4 in the shuttle) and sound decision making process (tossed just two interceptions as a junior) are traits all worth nurturing for the long haul.”