Photo courtesy of Paul Sancya – AP Photo
In February, Joe Milton not-so-surprisingly entered his name into the transfer portal after losing the starting job to Cade McNamara at Michigan. Following that, there was really no indication of what was next for Milton. Then comes an announcement that he would be joining the Michigan of the South, and heading to Knoxville.
The Tennessee Volunteers are hot off of a 3-7 season and fans are desperately looking forward to the Josh Heupel era in Rocky Top. In the shortened COVID year the Vols posted a measly 204 passing yards per game, leaving them well below the midline of college football at 83rd. Heupel and his staff have turned to the portal in hopes of remedying that sticking point in the offense.
The first of these options rolled into town even before Heupel, in Hendon Hooker. Hooker made the move to Tennessee in early January, and provided fans with a legitimate sense of excitement over their potential QB1 for 2021. The rising senior comes in with an expectation to end his career as the Vols’ starter, and he was almost a shoe-in to do so until Monday. 8-7
Through his 15 career starts, Hooker was able to prove himself a formidable starter within the Power 5, despite just an 8-7 record as a Hokie. Fortunately for Hooker, he’ll have the chance to win yet another starting job, and potentially push his name into what’s shaping up to be a solid crop of QB’s in 2021.
Standing in his way? The most confusingly overhyped quarterback that I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
Joe Milton came into 2020 with maybe the highest expectations for a junior with 6 career completions we’ve ever seen. Michigan media made the mistake of taking to Twitter with their comparisons for the former 4-star QB out of Orlando, and fans just couldn’t help themselves.
A Josh Allen-Cam Newton hybrid with some Brady-esque qualities certainly sounds like an all-time great, so how did he find himself looking for a new home? After an impressive performance against the not-so impressive Minnesota Golden Gophers, the floodgates opened. Some Michigan fans, even El Presidente himself, went over the cliff with excitement for their apparent savior.
And by golly off that cliff they went.
After one of the biggest overreactions to a singular game since Ohio State lost to VA Tech in 2014, the train predictably came to a screeching halt before bursting into flames. In his remaining 5 games, Milton completed just over 54% of his passes for slightly over 170.4 yards per-game. Granted, he was benched following a brutal start against Rutgers, so those YPG values may be skewed. Nonetheless, he eclipsed 100 yards just twice following his Week 1 clinic, posting a touchdown in just one of those games.
All that to say there was a problem in Ann Arbor, and Milton simply had no choice but to seek out a starting job elsewhere. Hilariously enough, he chose the team that happens to be a carbon-copy of the Wolverines. Fortunately, Heupel may have a finesse with quarterbacks which Jim Harbugh hasn’t been able to find since his 2010 run at Stanford.
Will this work out for either side?
Only time will tell, but adding someone with Milton’s potential can’t hurt Tennessee as they look to move on from a nearly two-decade long stretch of mediocrity.