By Josh Ward | @Josh_Ward
Brian Maurer has high hopes for Tennessee’s future.
The quarterback from West Port High School in Ocala, Fla., signed with the Vols on Wednesday and will enroll at Tennessee for the spring semester in January. He wants to help Tennessee win immediately.
“I’m coming in to start,” Maurer told WNML Radio. “I’m not trying to sit a year. I’m coming in to help the team right away.”
Maurer is aware of the presence of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who started all 12 games for Tennessee in 2018 as a redshirt sophomore, and JT Shrout, who redshirted as a true freshman this past fall. That won’t keep Maurer from competing for playing time.
“It doesn’t matter how many quarterbacks a school has that you want to attend,” he said. “Just go in and compete like you’re the day-one starter. That’s just the mindset I have.”
Maurer believes the 2019 class will bring a winning mindset to Tennessee’s program. He called it a “master plan” that will help turn Tennessee around.
“We’ve got some big-time players coming in,” Maurer said.
That list includes wide receiver Ramel Keyton, defensive back Jaylen McCollough and offensive lineman Wanya Morris, all four- and five-star prospects out of Georgia.
Tennessee’s collection of talent could be improved by adding running back Eric Gray, who will announce his college choice on Thursday, and offensive lineman Darnell Wright, who’s expected to wait until February to sign. Tennessee is considered the favorite to land both players.
Maurer said several schools tried to convince him to change his mind after he committed to Tennessee in June. Georgia was among the schools that called, but Maurer said he never considered the Bulldogs.
“If I’m really committed to Tennessee, why even bother talking to other schools?” Maurer said.
Maurer stayed committed to Tennessee despite not knowing who head coach Jeremy Pruitt will hire to be the Vols’ new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Pruitt is searching for a replacement for Tyson Helton, who left last month to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.
Maurer said he isn’t concerned about the vacancy, which Pruitt is expected to fill after the early signing period ends on Friday.
“He’s definitely not in a big rush about it,” Maurer said. “There’s still some big-time coaches playing football right now so he’s going to take his time with it and find the right person.”
Will that coach run the right system for Maurer? That shouldn’t be a concern, according to West Port head coach Matt Franklin.
“This is a kid that can do different things in each kind of system,” Franklin said in June following Maurer’s commitment to Tennessee. “You can put that kid in a pro-style system because he’s 6-foot-4, he’s going to be by the time he’s on the field at Neyland (Stadium) 210-215 pounds and still be able to run. Or you can put him in a system where he’s a running threat.”
Maurer is focused on helping Tennessee become a threat in the SEC again. He’s set the bar high for him and his fellow 2019 signees.
“What I hope this class becomes is the first class to bring a championship back to Knoxville,” Maurer said. “That’s the main goal here. No personal stats … I just want to help the team win.”
Listen to the full interview with Brian Maurer below.