In a cycle where there aren’t a ton of highly rated quarterbacks, the Tennessee Volunteers and their first-year coaching staff wanted to see several work out before slinging offers. Last week, 3-star signal-caller Brian Maurer of Ocala, Florida, traveled to Knoxville to throw for the staff.
Both sides liked what they saw.
Wednesday morning, the West Port HS quarterback committed to the Vols, choosing UT over Ohio State, West Virginia, Central Florida and others.
— Brian Maurer (@maurerera_2) June 27, 2018
After gaining the offer from Tennessee, Maurer went to Columbus to throw for the Buckeyes, who offered him on the spot, but OSU flipped a quarterback from Michigan State shortly after.
That made Maurer’s decision ultimately between the Vols and the Mountaineers, and the lure to play in the SEC and walk in the footsteps of his idol Peyton Manning were too much.
Maurer has great size, a quick release and really good accuracy. Rivals lists him at 6’4″, and 247Sports lists him at 6’2.5″, but he’s probably somewhere in the middle. That’s plenty tall enough to see over defenses.
He’s currently rated as the nation’s No. 18 pro-style quarterback nationally according to 247Sports and the 21st-rated pro-style passer according to Rivals. Those numbers will improve now that he’s done the camp circuit and showed out.
His quick release and accuracy were some of the attributes offensive coordinator Tyson Helton loved about him when he witnessed him throwing in person. Though the signal-caller grew up in the shadow of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, probably pulling for the Gators, the Vols made a ton of sense.
Florida — who hadn’t extended an offer — will run more spread concepts under new coach Dan Mullen, so that made Maurer perhaps not the best fit for that offense. The Vols are going to be a smashmouth offense with a pro-style passer if everything works out, and there may be some West Coast elements to the scheme as well, if Helton’s body of work at USC is any indication.
This all makes Maurer’s accuracy and ability to throw on the run intriguing aspects of his game. He continues to shine no matter where he goes and throws. He made the Elite 11 Finals and finished among the final 12 quarterbacks at the event, which earned him a spot in Nike’s The Opening Finals, which starts Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
Maurer will get the opportunity to prove he’s among the top quarterbacks in the country. He runs an eye-popping 4.5 40-yard dash, which proves his athleticism. So, that’s a pretty strong skill set when you factor in everything else he brings to the table. The offense and his skills fit what UT wants to do.
“Tennessee runs a true pro-style offense,” Maurer told VolQuest.com’s Austin Price. “Tennessee has some best facilties in the country and the coaches made a big impression on me.”
It’s going to be interesting to see now what happens with quarterback recruiting for the Vols. Are they finished? With the only scholarship signal-callers on the roster being Jarrett Guarantano, Will McBride, fifth-year graduate transfer Keller Chryst and incoming freshman JT Shrout, it may not be a bad idea for UT to keep going after another quarterback it really likes. If Chryst beats out JG for the starting gig, it’s not out of the question that the latter would transfer, even though he’d still have two years of eligibility remaining after Chryst graduates.
If Tennessee is still going to recruit a quarterback, that would be Alabama commitment Taulia Tagovailoa, the Hawaiian quarterback who currently goes to school at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama. Of course, he is the younger brother of Crimson Tide national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa, who is expected to be in a heated battle with Jalen Hurts for the Tide’s starting QB gig.
There’s a chance the Vols can flip Tagovailoa from the Tide, though. Even though Alabama would seem the logical fit, the Tide also has a pledge from 4-star quarterback Paul Tyson in this class, and Tyson is the grandson of legendary coach Bear Bryant. So, the younger Tagovailoa isn’t a guarantee to be UA’s quarterback of the future, either.
If the Vols can somehow get Maurer and Tagovailoa, that would be exceptional, but Maurer is a stellar pickup all by himself. He’s got a lot of attributes that should make him a coveted player for a lot of teams if they saw them in person. That’s what happened for the Vols, who loved what they saw, and he became Helton’s hand-picked man in this class.
Like Shrout before him, Maurer has thrown his share of interceptions in high school, but that isn’t something (obviously) that scares off Tennessee coaches. Helton believes he can mold those positive attributes and turn those guys into quality SEC quarterbacks.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt likes him, too, according to 247Sports’ Luke Stampini.
“The coaching staff, you know,” he said. “Sitting down with Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt for about an hour and a half, him just saying I’m the guy. He doesn’t just like the way I throw the football or run. He likes my toughness most of all.”
247Sports’ Greg Biggins thinks Maurer can be “elite.”
It has been a long time since the Vols had one of those signal-callers who could get the ball downfield. Yes, Joshua Dobbs was a game-changing athlete, but he struggled throwing vertically consistently, and Butch Jones’ one-dimensional offense didn’t help. You have to go back to Tyler Bray for when UT had a quality thrower, but the lack of a running game did Tennessee in then.
Can this staff put everything together offensively? That remains to be seen. But Maurer will have the opportunity to lead Tennessee’s offense into the next generation.