News Sentinel sportswriters John Adams and Blake Toppmeyer recap Tennessee’s 38-13 loss to Vanderbilt.
Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY Network – Tennessee
Thursday is decision day for Marietta’s junior quarterback Harrison Bailey. He’s set to announce his verbal commitment, and Michigan and Tennessee are considered his finalists.
What isn’t clear is which direction he’s leaning.
“It is pretty clear that it’s down to Tennessee and Michigan,” said Ryan Callahan, recruiting editor for GoVols247. “If you’d ask people about a week ago, I think the consensus was that Michigan was probably the favorite, even though he has been to Tennessee more the past few months.”
“While the perception was maybe Michigan was the favorite up until the last several days, I think Tennessee still has a legitimate shot,” Callahan added.
Tennessee’s 2020 class, which includes three commitments, doesn’t feature a quarterback. Michigan doesn’t have a quarterback committed to either its 2019 or 2020 classes.
Bailey is a four-star prospect from Marietta High School in Georgia. One of his teammates, four-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton, is committed to UT’s 2019 class.
The 6-foot-4, 217-pound Bailey is considered a pro-style quarterback.
He completed 212 of 335 passes (63.3 percent) for 2,809 yards during his junior season with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions, according to MaxPreps.
“He plays in a wide-open offense that throws the ball a lot, and that’s allowed him to be really productive,” Callahan said. “He’s also on a team that has a lot of talented receivers and even a tight end who’s a big-time prospect, so he’s surrounded by a lot of guys who have made his job even easier, but he’s a really good quarterback. There’s no question about it.
“He’s got a strong arm, has developed a pretty quick release. Fairly athletic, but mostly a pocket passer. Definitely a guy who’s going to fit well in a pro-style type of offense or a spread that throws it a lot.”
Tennessee has a vacancy at offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Tyson Helton departed this week to become the coach at Western Kentucky. But Callahan doesn’t expect that to affect Bailey’s decision.
“It doesn’t sound like that’s affected Tennessee’s chances at all,” Callahan said. “Everything we’ve gathered so far suggests that Bailey pretty much had his decision made before the news of Tyson Helton’s departure.
“If he was set on Tennessee before, it sounds like (Helton’s departure) hasn’t changed anything. Now, what we don’t know is if he was set on Michigan, obviously it wouldn’t have much of an impact either way.”