MacIntyre Commitment Bodes Well for UT

By Mark Nagi

There was a time when the Tennessee quarterback position was the land of misfit toys.

Quinten Dormady. Jarrett Guarantano. Brian Maurer. J.T. Shrout. Will McBride. Harrison Bailey. You might not remember all those names, but that was the list of starting signal callers at Tennessee from 2017 to 2020.

Well, those days are gone.

Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton were transfers that made Josh Heupel’s first three seasons at Tennessee an unexpected success. Now? Heupel has a QB room that will be the envy of most FBS programs.

The most recent addition is Brentwood Academy standout George MacIntyre, a 5-star QB and the top recruit in the state of Tennessee according to 247Sports.

MacIntyre is currently ranked as the 16th best recruit in the nation for the Class of 2025, and the third best QB in that class. He said, “Out of all the places I went to, Coach Heupel was a quarterback. It’s his offense. That’s not true for a lot of places. I remember kind of going around and trying to find schools like that.”

It was no surprise that MacIntyre’s services were sought after by many top programs, including LSU, Michigan, and Clemson. The fact that MacIntyre turned down Alabama to stay at home should give UT fans even more reason to celebrate.

Yes, Alabama has coaching turnover with Nick Saban retiring and Kalen DeBoer taking over in Tuscaloosa, but recruiting wins over the Evil Empire should always be celebrated.

Remember the saga of Ty Simpson? He was a 5-star quarterback from Westview High School in Martin. 247 Sports had Simpson rated as the 3rd-best pro style QB in the Class of 2022.  Then UT coach Jeremy Pruitt had offered Simpson a scholarship in June 2018, before his freshman year of high school. Simpson had visited the UT campus multiple times in the years that followed, including two games during the 2019 season.

But after Pruitt’s firing, Simpson signed with Alabama. He has played sparingly his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa.

In 2024, the coaching carousel might have helped the Vols in the recruitment of MacIntyre. Or maybe he was going to Tennessee all along. In his commitment video, MacIntyre said, “This isn’t a commitment. It’s a calling. And Volunteers answer the call.”

But MacIntyre isn’t the only high profile QB that Tennessee has lined up. In the Class of 2024, Tennessee signed Jake Merklinger from Cavalry Day School in Georgia. Merklinger was rated as the 10th best QB in that class.

Heupel boasted about Merklinger after his signing, saying, “His football IQ, ability to retain information and process out on the football field. He’s a winner, he’s competitive and has the right make-up.”

Of course, the signing of Nico Iamaleava in the Class of 2023 was perhaps the biggest eye opener. Iamaleava, a 5-star QB from California, didn’t play a lot last season, but in his lone start he led Tennessee to a 35-0 victory over Iowa in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.

That gives Tennessee two 5-stars and a 4-star as the top three guys in their QB room. Heupel knows that he can use that wealth at the sport’s most important position on the recruiting trail as well.

The future for Vols football looks extremely bright.