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Transfer Joe Milton to start opener at QB for Tennessee

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III (7) during morning football practice on campus on Friday, August 20, 2021.

Kns Ut Football Practice Bp
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III (7) during morning football practice on campus on Friday, August 20, 2021. Kns Ut Football Practice Bp

Michigan transfer Joe Milton will open the season as the starting quarterback for Tennessee.

New Volunteers coach Josh Heupel made the announcement Monday but said he wasn’t prepared to name a backup.

Tennessee opens the season Thursday against Bowling Green in Knoxville.

Milton had been vying with former Virginia Tech starter Hendon Hooker and Harrison Bailey, a top quarterback prospect in the 2020 class, for the starting job.

While Hooker and Bailey were with the Volunteers in the spring, Milton didn’t transfer to Tennessee until the summer session.

“He’s really done a good job, really a great job of fitting in, adjusting, learning, growing,” Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh said Wednesday. “He spent a bunch of time in May, June, July learning the system. He’s a football-smart young man. He’s played in games that matter. For him, it’s just been a terminology, a progression, a read.”

The 6-foot-5 Milton started the season opener for Michigan last year in a 49-24 win against Minnesota but was benched in their fourth game, against Wisconsin, as the Wolverines’ COVID-shortened season spiraled out of control. He also battled through a thumb injury.

Last season, Milton completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 1,077 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions. A redshirt junior, he has three seasons of eligibility left, gaining a year because of COVID-19 exemptions.

–Field Level Media