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Ex-Stanford QB Keller Chryst finishing career at Tennessee

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee has added former Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst to its roster as a graduate transfer.

Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt has confirmed the addition of Chryst, who started seven games for Stanford last season before getting replaced by K.J. Costello .

Chryst transferred to Tennessee looking for an opportunity to compete. He announced after the 2017 season that he intended to graduate from Stanford in June and go elsewhere for his final season of eligibility .

"There are probably some other guys who would have liked to have come here, but I would not tell them they'd be the starting quarterback," Pruitt said. "That will be determined by the guys on the field. Keller was excited about just the chance to compete. That's all he wanted."

Pruitt also announced other team updates, including that he considers wide receiver Jauan Jennings to be part of the team again. Jennings was dismissed from the team last November for criticizing Tennessee's previous coaching staff on social media.

Chryst, the nephew of Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 962 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions last season.

Tennessee's only two returning scholarship quarterbacks are Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride. Both will be sophomores next season. Quinten Dormady, who opened the 2017 campaign as Tennessee's starting quarterback, announced after the season that he plans to transfer .

Guarantano started six of Tennessee's final seven games last season as a redshirt freshman and completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 997 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. McBride, who started one game in place of an injured Guarantano, completed 42.5 percent of his passes for 152 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Tennessee also welcomes incoming freshman JT Shrout.

Pruitt likes Chryst's maturity and experience while pointing out that Stanford won 11 of his 13 career starts. Pruitt also praised the toughness Guarantano showed in Tennessee's 2017 loss to Alabama , where Pruitt worked as defensive coordinator . Pruitt acknowledged he isn't as familiar yet with McBride, who didn't play against Alabama last season.

"He's tough,' Pruitt said of Guarantano. "He has arm talent. He has good athletic ability. ... I have seen him work hard in this offseason and try to do things the right way."

Pruitt offered other details about the program as the new coaching staff prepares to open spring practice March 20. Pruitt is taking over for the fired Butch Jones as Tennessee attempts to bounce back from a 4-8 season in which the Vols set a school record for losses and failed to win a single Southeastern Conference game .

Jennings won't participate in spring practice while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Pruitt said Jennings would be participating in spring practice drills if he were healthy.

Jennings was dismissed from the team with just one game remaining last season after he ripped Tennessee's 2017 coaching staff in a profanity-laced video that was posted on Instagram. Jennings caught 40 passes for 580 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016 but played just one game last season due to a wrist injury.

"He's part of the team," Pruitt said. "We're giving him an opportunity to do what he needs to do to have success in the future. He has a list of things that he's got to do, and he knows what they are. He's in the process of doing them."

Pruitt also said offensive tackle Trey Smith has some "personal health issues" that will prevent him from participating in spring practice. Pruitt didn't specify the nature of Smith's health problems. Smith was Tennessee's top offensive lineman as a freshman last season.

Another offensive lineman, tackle Chance Hall, underwent knee surgery this week. Pruitt said he's hopeful that Hall will be ready for the season. Hall made a combined 13 starts in 2015-16 but didn't play last year due to his knee injury.

Smith said Ja'Quain Blakely, Tyler Byrd and Carlin Fils-aime will work out at new positions for the start of spring practice as the new staff figures out where they fit best.

Blakely, who had been playing defensive end, will work out at tight end. Byrd will move from wide receiver to the secondary. Fils-aime will shift from running back to cornerback.

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Updated March 9, 2018

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