Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Vols have reportedly won the Keller Chryst sweepstakes, if such a thing existed.
Now, the Vols have four quarterbacks on their roster — Chryst, a graduate transfer from Stanford, redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano, sophomore Will McBride, and freshman JT Shrout. However, Chryst’s arrival essentially narrows Tennessee’s quarterback competition to him and Guarantano, leaving the other two names in limbo.
Chryst arrives with zero direct connections to Knoxville or its staff, but he does have an indirect connection with offensive coordinator Tyson Helton, who spent the last two seasons at USC squaring off against Chryst’s Cardinals.
Obviously, Helton’s opinion of Chryst is high enough to convince Pruitt to bring him on board, even if the graduate transfer’s production level at Palo Alto was low.
In 23 games at Stanford, Chryst completed only 55 percent of his passes, threw for 1,926 yards, and tossed 19 touchdowns compared to six interceptions. In the PAC-12 — a conference whose defensive ineptitude rivals the Big 12 — those numbers are nowhere near the video-game type numbers quarterbacks often put up out West.
Yet, there’s a strong sense of optimism surrounding this move, despite the fact that Chryst’s arrival changes absolutely nothing for Tennessee’s 2018 outlook.
As a Vol fan, ask yourself this question — Does Chryst’s arrival make Tennessee better than Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, or Florida in 2018?
The answer has to be no.
At this point, Chryst is getting brownie points simply for existing. He’s dubbed an “experienced” quarterback, but what value does his experience actually bring to the table?
Moving from the PAC-12 to the SEC is like living in the Amazon Rain Forest your whole life before randomly getting dropped off in Birmingham, Alabama one day. It’s a culture shock that Chryst has no comparative experience with.
As referenced by our very own Austin Stanley on Friday morning’s show, Chryst was only sacked on six percent of his dropbacks during his career at Stanford. Meanwhile, Jarrett Guarantano was sacked on 15 percent of his dropbacks last season.
Granted, the sample sizes are different and Guarantano would hold onto the ball until the end of time, but that stat is one of several examples that show the disparity of defensive competition between the PAC-12 and SEC.
Should Chryst start — which would be a grave mistake by Pruitt and staff, but that’s another column for another day — all we’ll see is a quarterback starting over from scratch.
I understand why the Tennessee faithful is optimistic about this move. Given Knoxville’s football climate over the past decade, gravitating toward the positive viewpoint is bound to happen.
But make no mistake about it — Chryst doesn’t change Tennessee’s 2018 outlook, and it shouldn’t heighten expectations.