Although an offer to a 2022 prospect in May of 2020 normally wouldn’t cause much of a ripple, Tennessee’s offer to Atlanta-area QB Sam Horn yesterday shines a light on how far Tennessee’s Quarterback situation has come in just a year or so. After entering his inaugural 2018 season as Tennessee’s Head Coach with only RS Sophomore Jarrett Guarantano, graduate transfer Keller Chryst, and true freshman late signee JT Shrout, Jeremy Pruitt has completely revamped the position to be one of real strength heading into the 2020 season but potentially even more so in the near future. Assuming 5-star true freshman Harrison Bailey isn’t able to overtake Guarantano in the latter’s senior season, he’ll head into the 2021 season battling some combination (pending transfers) of Shrout, Brian Maurer – he of some very promising play in the 2019 season that was ultimately derailed by injury – and Top 100 overall player and current 2021 commitment Kaidon Salter. That’s to say nothing of course of the real possibility that Tennessee brings in former 5-star and true freshman USC starter JT Daniels as a transfer this offseason, which we have advocated for in this space.
The 2022 QB class in general appears to be loaded, with numerous high level talents across the country. What makes it unique from Tennessee’s perspective of course is the very rare presence of an elite QB prospect within the borders of the Volunteer State in Ty Simpson from Martin, TN. Simpson has offers from all of college football’s bigtime powers and is considered to at least be on the level of Bailey as a prospect. He’s also very strongly considering Tennessee, to the point where one might reasonably consider him to be a Vol lean at this point. By all indications Simpson is Tennessee’s #1 2022 QB on the board, and there’s also a thought that Simpson would like to be the only QB in his class, aka “The Man.” Is Tennessee willing to take a commitment from Simpson and shut it down? Perhaps, maybe definitely. Hard to say of course unless and until Simpson decides to commit. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that Tennessee has familial ties with, and has received visits from, two of the other most highly touted and recruited QBs in the 2022 class. Kaden Martin, son of Tennessee legend and current WR Coach Tee Martin, received a Tennessee offer earlier this winter and has since received offers from schools like Miami, Arkansas, and Ole Miss among others. Braden Davis, son of former Tennessee OL Antone Davis who was also the VFL Coordinator not long ago, is even more highly ranked and recruited holding offers from Alabama, Oregon, Georgia, and other elite programs while ranking as the 247 Sports #4 Dual Threat QB in the class. Davis visited Knoxville in early March before the shutdown and obviously has a fondness for his father’s alma mater despite living in Delaware.
Horn is a fast-rising prospect in his own right, already holding offers from numerous ACC schools, Missouri and Kentucky before Tennessee jumped in with an offer. UGA Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken inquired last night as well, no doubt due to Tennessee making the leap. Horn is yet another prospect with deep ties to the University, as both of his parents attended school in Knoxville and he has an older brother who’s a UT student now. His family has been season ticket holders for years and he’s attended numerous games in Neyland Stadium and he called the offer a “dream come true”.
So what do we make of the offer to Horn in light of where the Vols sit with Simpson, as well as Martin and Davis? Well, from this vantage point it seems like there are a number of factors at play here. For one, Horn appears to be a really good looking prospect who is going to end up being a high level recruit. And as a lifelong Vol fan from a UT family, it makes sense to throw your hat in the ring and not be late to the party. Secondly, even if it’s true that Simpson is Tennessee’s #1 target on the 2022 board, he’s not ready to commit yet. Coach Jeremy Pruitt isn’t one to go without multiple backup plans, especially in recruiting, so this tracks his standard operating procedure. Thirdly and finally, if Tennessee does land JT Daniels, what does that do with someone like Simpson and all other 2022 QBs who might all of the sudden see a more crowded QB room in Knoxville as an impediment to committing to Tennessee.
The bottom line is that Pruitt’s goal is to continue to improve Tennessee’s roster at every position – from 1st team to scout team – as quickly and as much as he can. With the QB position inarguably being the most important position on the field, getting that group to an elite level takes on that much more significance. Therefore, giving themselves as many options as possible to land at least one if not multiple bigtime QBs in each class, and building on the work done from the 2019-2021 classes (not even inclusive of the potential add of Daniels) is imperative. That’s what Tennessee has done by offering Horn this early and despite what had appeared to be a relatively set 2022 QB board, and it’s yet another example of Pruitt being one of the best in the game when it comes to not just recruiting but also roster management and future-based thinking.