Tayven Jackson, we hardly knew you.
Once upon a time, news of a high-profile quarterback recruit signing up to play football in Tennessee set fans on the mental path of wondering if this is the guy who can beat Florida or Georgia? Is this the guy who can take the Vols back to the SEC championship game?
You can speculate where he would be in the Vols’ record book on Senior Day when he ran through the “T” and hugged Coach Whatzizname for the last time.
No longer. Now, when a quarterback signs up for the Vols, the following thought comes to mind:
Will this guy ever take a snap at Neyland Stadium?
Jackson actually took a few. A true freshman in third place on the depth chart, he made three cameo appearances last fall before injuring himself.
His next snap will be at Indiana University.
Jackson stormed through the transfer portal so quickly he didn’t have time to figure out where the toilet was.
Quarterbacks moving to supposedly greener pastures aren’t new. Your dilemma has existed since leather helmets. A bunch of linebackers or receivers or defensive backs play a lot. Offensive linemen can be shuffled to get the top five on the field. Defensive linemen rotate each series.
But a quarterback will take almost all snaps. If you’re not QB1, watch.
Quarterbacks come and go. The transfer portal and the promise of instant play eligibility have accelerated movement at every position—even kickers—but especially quarterbacks.
Tennessee got two wonderful seasons from transfer Hendon Hooker. Transfer Joe Milton projects as a starter in 2023.
In their spectacular 11-2 campaign in 2022, the Vols faced four transfer quarterbacks. They beat Pittsburgh’s Kedon Slovis, Kentucky’s Will Levis and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. They were smoked by Spencer Rattler from South Carolina.
Clemson played a freshman quarterback at the Orange Bowl after DJ Uiagalelei made a switch after the ACC championship game. Since the end of the season, Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright has stumbled upon the portal.
Nobody knows the portal better than JT Daniels. After seasons in Southern Cal, Georgia and most recently in West Virginia, Daniels has joined Rice for 2023.
Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams last month became the fourth transfer quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in the past six years. The others: Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.
Jackson, meanwhile, is giving Tennessee fans a fifth ex-Vol quarterback to monitor remotely in 2023. Harrison Bailey is with UNLV, JT Shrout with Colorado, Brian Maurer with Stephen F. Austin and Kaidon Salter with Liberty.
Of course, all of the above changes are subject to change when the Spring Portal window arrives.
At least Jackson actually spent a year in Tennessee. Vol fans have played the what-if game with a handful of touted commitments that never made it to signing day.
Hunter Johnson joined Clemson in 2017. Michael Penix and Adrian Martinez split in Butch Jones exit drama
When Phillip Fulmer joined Lane Kiffin in 2008, Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty’s commitments went through the drain. Both had great careers at Clemson and Baylor, respectively.
Jackson’s exit is not amazing. The arrival of announced signee Nico Iamaleava for bowl practice and his stunning NIL deal was impossible to ignore.
So the Vols are down to two scholarship quarterbacks, senior Milton and the prospective QB of the future. UT wants to fill Jackson’s empty locker.
The portal will reopen in April. Stay tuned.
Mike Strange is a former News Sentinel writer. He currently writes a weekly sports column for Shopper News.