Jimmy’s blog: Neuheisel loves Milton’s arm but says QB must expand game

(This is the third in a three-part series from a recent interview with former Power 5 head coach and CBS analyst Rick Neuheisel on SportsTalk radio The Sports Animal, 99.1 FM, 990 AM. Part Three is about UT dipping into the transfer portal.) 

By Jimmy Hyams

You no longer construct a college roster by just signing high school prospects.

You fill it out with other college players from the transfer portal.

In Tennessee’s case, the Vols have lost over 25 in the portal but signed five, including a quarterback, a wide receiver, a linebacker and two defensive linemen.

Rick Neuheisel, the CBS analyst and former Power 5 head coach, is intrigued by UT landing Michigan quarterback transfer Joe Milton of Orlando.

Milton made five starts at Michigan, was benched, then transferred.

What is Tennessee getting in the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Milton?

“A great athlete,’’ Neuheisel said.

“He’s a 6-5 kid with a howitzer of a throwing arm.’’

Neuheisel said Milton debuted for Michigan last year with an impressive performance against Minnesota, and you say “holy smoke, there’s our guy.

“But the problem is, when you ask him to be more dimensional as a quarterback, he has to have more dimension in the type throws he delivers. I don’t see a lot of trajectory throws where he drops it in over a linebacker or on a post corner or hits a receiver down the sideline with a back shoulder throw.

“I just see high velocity throws.’’

Milton will have to add to his arsenal if he wants to be Tennessee’s quarterback.

Neuheisel said Milton is like former LSU quarterback T.J. Finley, another strong-armed thrower.

“They’re like relief pitchers,’’ he said. “They come in in the ninth and get you out with fastballs. But if you ask them to be a starting pitcher, they got to have more than that. You’ve got to have ways to finesse (the opponent). That will be the biggest challenge for Joe Milton in this get-it-out-of-your-hands fast offense of Josh Heupel.’’

Neuheisel thinks linebacker Juwan Mitchell, a transfer from Texas, will make an immediate impact.

“I think he’s going to be your leading tackler at Tennessee,’’ Neuheisel said. “The guy is a sideline-to-sideline guy. I’m surprised he’s leaving Texas.’’

Mitchell led the Longhorns in tackles last season.

Another UT quarterback, Hendon Hooker, transferred from Virginia Tech. He had a solid spring and is competing for the starting job.

“I love Hendon Hooker,’’ Neuheisel said. “I don’t know that he fits the Heupel offense because his legs are his chief weapon. It will be interesting to see how they try to incorporate his legs (into the offense).

“If they can add some run threat, which … creates 11-on-11, rather than 10-on-11, then Hendon Hooker will be really valuable.’’

Neuheisel said Mississippi State receiver transfer DaVonta Peyton, who played last year in Mike Leach’s Air Raid, will “understand spacing. That will help in terms of learning coach Heupel’s offense quickly because the Air Raid isn’t unlike what coach Heupel is doing.’’

Neuheisel said Southern Cal defensive line transfer Caleb Tremblay was on a deep and talented Trojan d-line and should fit in well with UT.

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