The Tennessee Volunteers received some outstanding news on the recruiting trail today. At his high school in Marietta, Georgia, Quarterback Harrison Bailey announced that he would be committing to the University of Tennessee. The six foot, four inch tall, two hundred twenty pound Bailey is currently ranked by 247 Sports as a four-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Bailey is also rated at the number three Pro-Style Quarterback for the 2020 cycle. In the Marietta product, the Vols have landed a player that is capable of doing whatever is asked of him from under center. When he arrives on campus, the strong-armed Bailey will look to compete for playing time, and certainly appears to be the quarterback of the future for Jeremy Pruitt and his staff. However, he could end up as the quarterback of the present.
Harrison has been in contact with Tennessee coaches leading up to his announcement at Marietta this afternoon. Among the recruiting pitches from the Vol staff, there have also been discussions of Bailey potentially reclassifying to join the 2019 recruiting cycle. Bailey, a good student, would academically qualify to graduate early from high school and move up to join the college team of his choice a season earlier. Should Bailey elect to join the 2019 class, along with his good friend and Marietta teammate Wide Receiver Ramel Keyton, it should be expected to see not only the class rating for the Vols jumping. Upon joining the 2019 cycle, it is likely that Bailey will be re-evaluated by the recruiting industry at large, which will likely see his rating updated. Whether in 2019 or 2020, expect to see Bailey receive a unanimous fifth star in his overall grade. However, in the 2019 class, Bailey could vault to the top of this quarterback class. Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler and Bailey would be a very close one-two for the top Pro Style signal caller, and either could be listed as number one.
Regardless of his ranking, the Vols are getting an exceptionally talented and decorated player in Bailey, edging out essentially every team in the country for his services, although the primary competition for Tennessee to secure Bailey came from Jim Hargbaugh and Michigan. Over the last few months, Michigan pressed hard for the Marietta passer, with Harbaugh attending one of Bailey’s high school games when the Wolverines had a bye week. It has been viewed as a two-horse raise between the Maize and Blue and Orange and White for some time now, but this afternoon, the Vols emerged ahead. This by no means should make fans of either school feel like Bailey’s recruitment is concluded. Tennessee will have to fight to keep Bailey committed, and Michigan has made it evident that they will continue to try to get the talented quarterback to Ann Arbor. Should Bailey elect to remain in the 2020 class, his recruitment will be hotly contested for another year. If he joins the 2019 class, this early commitment could prove pivotal, and advantageous for Tennessee. The Vols have the added advantage of the aforementioned Keyton being in his friend and quarterback’s ear daily. The pair were among the most dynamic quarterback-wide receiver combinations in all high school football this past season. Keyton certainly deserves an assist credited to him in the recruitment of Bailey whatever class he joins, but the allure of going to college with his friend and teammate has been enticing to Bailey.
As for what the Vols can expect to get on the field with Bailey, the tape and numbers don’t lie. In the 2018 football season, Bailey threw for 2,809 yards, 29 Touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions. He averaged 312.1 yards per game with a completion percentage of 63.2 percent, good for a Quarterback Rating of 111.2 for the season. When asked about Bailey, the Recruiting Director for The All Vol Call In Show and long time Georgia High School Scout, Dale Dowden had this to say:
“In Bailey, the Vols are getting a quarterback that can definitely take command of the huddle. He is very fundamentally sound in all his intangibles such as, his footwork, eye discipline, progressions, and ball placement. Coach Tony Ballard has definitely helped to mold a quarterback that has been in the public eye since his eighth-grade season.”
“Bailey has a live rocket for an arm and, if given the time to set his feet and read, has the ability to find his favorable match ups and take advantage of them. Does he have room to improve? Absolutely, but he strives to get better every chance he gets, and with that being said, his ceiling is as high as his rating. He is a student of the game and his football mind is far beyond his years.”
On tape, it quickly becomes evident that the Vols have a young man here that can make all the throws on the field. He has ideal size and a frame that should be able to add more muscle as he ages and spends time in a college strength and conditioning program. Bailey is not billed as a runner, but he has more than adequate athleticism if he must pull the ball down to run. He wants to beat you with his arm, but has excellent mobility and awareness within the pocket, along with enough foot speed to scramble when he must. Bailey is a quarterback that will use his mind and ability to read defenses to find mismatches against a defense, and then utilize his elite arm talent to exploit those mismatches. He posses the rare combination of size, physical talent, and mental prowess to be a truly elite quarterback. Furthermore, Bailey not only has a strong arm, but as Dowden alluded to, he has a very accurate arm. Bailey’s tape shows him time and again place balls where only his receivers can make a play on them, almost always leaving them an opportunity to make a play. Playing in the 6A division of high school football in Georgia, Bailey is also used to playing with and against Power Five and SEC talent week in and week out. He put these numbers up against many of the players he will see again during his time at Tennessee. Again, the established trust and relationship with the dynamic Keyton can’t be overstated when Harrison arrives in Knoxville. Should Harrison arrive with Keyton in this 2019 cycle, the pair of them could be on the field for Tennessee together this fall, because make no mistake, Harrison Bailey will arrive in Knoxville to, at the bare minimum, compete for the starting job.
A final note about the Bailey commitment is to note how it will impact the current quarterback situation for the Vols. Jarret Guarantano will be a redshirt junior in 2019, and with fifth year senior, grad transfer, Keller Chryst out of eligibility and redshirt sophomore to-be Will McBride announcing his transfer out of the program last night, the Vols have no other signal callers that have taken a collegiate snap. Redshirt freshman to-be JT Shrout was redshirted this season and the Vols currently have a solid commitment from Ocala, Florida quarterback Brian Mauer in the 2019 class. Mauer is rated as a three-star prospect at the moment but given his numbers and show stealing performance at the Elite Eleven camp earlier this year, his rating appears to be a bit lower than his talents. If Bailey reclassifies to the 2019 class, there is some question as to whether the Vols would take two quarterback commits due to scholarship numbers available. That said, the transfer of McBride did open another scholarship, and one for a quarterback no less, in this cycle. The early expectation is that Mauer is a solid Vol commit and welcomes competition. Truth be told, the Vols would like to have at least four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster and to potentially redshirt at least one, if not both, of the freshmen if neither were to win the starting job.
Whatever comes going forward, Jeremy Pruitt proved that he still has the chops as an elite recruiter today in landing an absolute star at the quarterback spot. Pruitt may have the foundation for his 2020 class, or a huge jewel for this all-important 2019 class. Either way, the Vols have started the offseason much stronger than they ended the regular season on the football field. Pruitt has talked multiple times, at length, about getting his guys, guys that would do things the right way, into the program. He is off to a strong start to do just that in this 2019 class and beyond, and wherever Harrison Bailey fits, he will likely be one of the players Pruitt expects to lead the roster he assembles. The Vols are building momentum going into the early signing period with today’s huge pick up. Which class Bailey joins, and which recruits might be swayed to join the Vols due to his addition, will be very interesting to watch in the immediate future.