By Jimmy Hyams
During Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure as an Alabama assistant, the Crimson Tide won national titles mainly with pocket passers in a pro-style offense.
But in December, Tennessee signed a mobile quarterback in Jimmy Holiday, who has run an electronically timed 4.38 seconds in the 40 and who has the ability to play multiple positions.
Holiday, who had been committed to TCU, is a bit different from the other scholarship quarterbacks on the Tennessee roster. The 6-foot, 190-pounder rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a senior at Madison, Miss.
Does that represent a change in philosophy for Pruitt?
“We’ve never had a shift in philosophy,’’ Pruitt said during a recent interview on The Sports Animal WNML Radio. “Our number one thing is to be able to recruit a guy that can throw the ball to win games, but at the same time, combine the athleticism that gives you the opportunity to create quarterback runs, to have a guy that can extend plays, that can put pressure on the opponent.’’
That sounds like a Joe Burrow or a Trevor Lawrence or a Justin Fields or a Jalen Hurts.
Those four quarterbacks engineered their teams into this season’s College Football Playoffs.
And when you look at the NFL playoffs, seven of the eight teams in the divisional round had a mobile quarterback, Kurt Cousins of Minnesota being the exception. And Cousins isn’t exactly a statue.
While Pruitt values a quarterback who can run, he also feels it’s important to have an accurate thrower.
“If you’re going to be able to win a championship,’’ Pruitt said, “you obviously almost have to win every game. So to do that, there’s going to be a time when you might not be able to get the running game going. So the quarterback’s going to have to make throws.
“So you’ve got to … have a quarterback that can make all the throws and have the consistency to be able to do that.’’
Whether Holiday can make all the throws at the SEC level remains to be seen.
Even if he can’t, he could be an asset to the offense this year, perhaps running out of the wildcat package or lining up in the slot, or at running back. There’s no reason UT can’t find a way to get Holiday on the field for five to 10 plays a game – depending on the situation.
And if Holiday proves to be an accurate passer, he could be the type quarterback that gives defenses fits – and takes Tennessee to the next level.