Tennessee’s Joe Milton III is the seventh best quarterback prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft class, according to Pro Football Focus. Milton came in ahead of Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman.
“Get ready for a laser show in Knoxville,” Chadwick wrote for PFF. “Milton has the strongest arm in college football and quite frankly, it might not be very close. His 11.1% big-time throw rate easily led all FBS signal-callers with at least 100 drop-backs. He has fewer than 700 career snaps across his five seasons at Michigan and Tennessee, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the starting job this season.”
Joe Milton in 2022: 53-82, 971 yards, 10 TDs, 0 INTs
Milton last season passed for 971 yards and 10 touchdowns, completing 65 percent of his passes over nine games. His opportunities were limited to mop-up duty behind Hendon Hooker until Hooker was lost to a torn ACL in November.
Milton started in Tennessee’s 56-0 win in the regular-season finale at Vanderbilt a week after Hooker’s season-ending injury, then threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-14 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in December, named the bowl game’s MVP.
Milton won the open quarterback competition before the 2021 season, when Heupel and his staff was newly hired at Tennessee. But Milton’s ankle injury in Week 2 against Pitt opened the door for Heupel, who took over the job and never let go.
Heupel said after the Orange & White Game in April that Milton has shown growth both on the field and off.
“I think some of that starts with off the field and being really sure in who he is and what he is about,” Heupel said. “Defining and growing in his work habits. That has allowed him to be more consistent and grow inside of what we are doing. If you are talking about just the football player, it starts with an understanding of what we are doing, understanding defenses and being consistent with his reads.
“Pair that with growth fundamentally,” Heupel continued, “getting his feet in the ground and being in a consistent, positive position to be able to deliver the football from the ground up. You pair those things together and he is able to grow. You saw some of that in the way that he played at the end of last year. He has had a really good spring.”
Joe Milton still ‘preparing and getting ready’ as Tennessee’s starting QB
Milton said in April that he hasn’t changed anything from last year. He tried to prepare as if he were the starter then and he’s doing the same now, as he takes over for Hooker full time.
“Just preparing and getting ready because you never know when your time is called,” Milton said. “Just like last year. I didn’t know my time was going to get called. Just kept repping it, kept getting better. Kept pushing Hendon.
“And now I get more reps when I talk to Nico and the rest of the quarterback room, Gaston and Navy. I get more reps of the mental aspect of it, just because I have to explain it to someone else. That preps you to be more prepared when those situations come.”
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