For the first time in several offseasons, the starting quarterback position in Knoxville isn’t up for grabs as Jarrett Guarantano firmly has control of that spot on Rocky Top. However, as confident as the team may be in the starter under center, the players behind Guarantano entering 2019 having no experience playing in the SEC.

It’s fair to say the team doesn’t exactly know what it has in redshirt freshman JT Shrout and true freshman Brian Maurer, at least until either one of them sees the field for the first time in meaningful action. Until that point, the coaching staff only has practice reps to go off of heading into the season.

The way Jeremy Pruitt tells it a week into spring camp, neither player lacks the skill to play at this level but the rest of their game needs to catch up to their talent.

“Both guys have good arms. They have pretty good athletic ability, they have to speed up, they have to take care of the football. Arm talent is not an issue, but if you’re throwing the ball late, it’s not a good thing,” Pruitt said during his latest media availability. “You have to know where to start in your progressions, you have to handle the offense, you have to get them in and out of the huddle. You have to be a good communicator and you have to be demanding.

“They both need to improve on that and they will. Again, like a lot of guys on our team, they just need to play ball and get reps. They’ll improve as long as they have an opportunity to do that.”

How quickly each player has to development remains unclear but when you consider Guarantano had to leave a few games last season due to injury, both freshmen need to get up to speed quickly as either one could be called upon to step up as soon as this fall on Rocky Top.