The Tennessee Vols are experiencing a lot of success on the recruiting trail under Josh Heupel when it comes to landing elite quarterbacks.

Since Heupel’s arrival in early 2021, Tennessee has landed transfer quarterback Joe Milton (from Michigan), four-star quarterback Tayven Jackson (2022 signee), and five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava (2023 commit).

Not bad, right?

That kind of recruiting success suggests the Vols don’t really need any help in recruiting.

But any college football head coach will tell you that you can never have enough help when it comes to recruiting. Anything that can provide an edge over a rival is welcomed.

Recruiting help for the Tennessee Vols from…Pete Carroll?

The Vols could be receiving some inadvertent recruiting assistance from Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll this season.

Carroll appears to be comfortable entering the 2022 season with former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock as the Seahawks’ starter (Seattle traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos earlier this offseason and received Lock in return).

“When Drew came out of college — we made our assessments and evaluated him [for] the draft — we saw him as a big, strong-armed, mobile, aggressive, athletic quarterback,” said Carroll at the NFL owners’ meetings last month. “He had thrown a ton of footballs. He had a very aggressive program where you got to see him do everything … and we really liked what we saw. We can still see that. We see that right now when we watch the film.”

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Jan 2, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) throws the ball in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lock, of course, played under Heupel for two years at Missouri and put up big numbers (Heupel was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator). He spent the first three years of his career with the Broncos after being selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The former Mizzou quarterback, who is still just 25 years old, has started 21 games so far during his NFL career. Lock went 4-1 as a rookie in 2019, but he’s just 4-12 in his last 16 starts.

Could Lock experience a career renaissance under Carroll in Seattle?

It’s certainly possible that Lock will be a better fit with the Seahawks than he was with the Broncos.

If Lock can prove to be an effective starter for Seattle — and help the Seahawks make some noise in the NFC West — it will lead to Lock no longer being viewed as a “draft bust”.

And ultimately, that helps Tennessee on the recruiting trail.

If Heupel and the Vols are going to continue to recruit quarterbacks at a high level, they need examples of their players having success in the NFL. After all, reaching the NFL is the main goal for any top-tier quarterback.

Lock turning his career around and becoming a productive NFL quarterback is just another selling point that Heupel could use on the recruiting trail.

It’s on Lock to make the most of this opportunity. But without Carroll’s belief in him, the opportunity wouldn’t even be there.

Some would suggest that Carroll’s decision to leave USC after the 2009 season was the catalyst for Tennessee’s decade of dysfunction (it led to Lane Kiffin’s abrupt departure from UT). It’s poetic that Carroll could play a small role in the Vols’ return to relevancy.

Featured image via USA TODAY Sports