Signing an accurate, athletic and capable quarterback in 2018 may be paramount for Tennessee if coach Butch Jones and his staff decide to not bring in a field general this recruiting cycle.
One of the few names that has a scholarship offer from the Orange & White is Phil Jurkovec of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, who got the offer from the Volunteers in the winter.
“I was really excited by it,” Jurkovec told InsideTennessee. “They just seem like they’re an up-and-coming team. Everything that I’ve heard about them is they’re a young team and these great recruiting classes they’ve been getting. They’re looking forward to the next couple of years to really be a powerhouse team. I was able to watch their (Outback) bowl game. They just dominated that game. They seem like an explosive offense. Also, the fan base…it’s a huge fan base that has fans that travel everywhere and that’s just real impressive.”
Word of the orange-clad opportunity came from fourth-year Vols assistant Don Mahoney, who is also originally from Pennsylvania.
“(Mahoney) seems really cool,” Jurkovec said. “Really good coach. He’s from Pennsylvania, so he knows the area. We were kind of talking about Pittsburgh a little bit but we were really just talking about Tennessee and how much he wants me to go down there as soon as I can and check it all out. I’ve never been to Tennessee before. I’m just excited to go down there, see what’s there, see the campus, talk to the coaches.”
Jurkovec plays basketball as well at Pine-Richland (Pa.) High School and wasn’t able to visiting Knoxville upon receiving the offer. However, coming south this spring or summer is a plan in the works.
Joining the Big Orange with offers are Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple and Wisconsin. The right-handed signal-caller didn’t grow up rooting for any program in particular.
In terms of being entertained by watching quarterbacks on the highest level perform, a former Tennessee All-American is the first name the Keystone State standout mentioned.
“In the NFL, I’ve always liked Peyton Manning, liked Tom Brady. I just try to watch anybody, like any of the great quarterback that have played — Ben Roethlisberger. Then, in college I love watching (Tennessee rising senior Joshua) Dobbs, I love watching Ohio State quarterbacks like J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and just all types of offenses, even Stanford. I just like to watch all the different types and all the different players to try to pick up little things and watch for the details.”
Aspects of the Tennessee program are attractive to Jurkovec beyond the abilities of Dobbs and Manning. The staff will have to crank up its recruitment of the athletic QB if it plans to pluck him out of the Midwest. Jurkovec is in the early stages of deciding what he wants out of a college.
“There’s just a number of things,” he said. “I don’t know if I could narrow it down. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do after football right now. I’ll just say the coaching, the academics and the overall atmosphere of the school. Those would be my three biggest things right now, but there’s just so much that goes into a school that you have to look into.”
The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder figures to be one of the nation’s premier dual-threat quarterbacks when he signs in February 2018.
“I think I can do both pro-style and spread (offenses),” Jurkovec said. “Our offense right now runs a spread. I would say I’m more of a dual-threat quarterback, but I could fit into a pro-style offense. My strengths are my arm strength and just being able to make plays by throwing the ball and making plays by running with my feet. Things I need to work on: I just need to put on weight, get stronger, get faster, and I also want to work on my accuracy and timing with my wide receivers. It’s just going to take time over the summer.”
One thing in Jurkovec’s favor is that he’s seen the Division I recruiting process unfold up close as former Pine-Richland (Pa.) High School teammate Ben DiNucci preceded him at his school at quarterback before DiNucci eventually decided to play at Pitt alongside former Vols signal-caller Nathan Peterman.
In 2015, Jurkovec threw for 2,560 yards on 176-of-264 passing with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. He ran the football 130 times for 1,250 yards with 11 touchdowns, including five 100-yard rushing games.