KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Josh Heupel era will officially begin on Thursday with Joe Milton under center as the head Vol named the Michigan transfer the starting quarterback for week one on Monday.

The former Wolverine finished with 1,077 yards, four touchdowns and interceptions while competing in Ann Arbor. He also chalked 109 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Milton beat out Harrison Bailey and Hendon Hooker, who also have experience under their belt. Bailey played in six games last season, throwing for 578 yards and four touchdowns. Hooker had the strongest statistical season between the three in 2020 with 1339 passing yards and nine touchdowns. He also ran for 620 yards and nine touchdowns.

Heupel thought the trio all did a solid job leading up to the decision, but felt Milton had the most improvement.

“I really believe all three have the opportunity to play at a high level given the opportunity,” Heupel said. “At the end of the day it felt like Joe, his grasp of our offense during a short amount of time. His growth, acceleration in what we’re doing. Some physical attributes, decision making, led us to put the ball in his hands here this first ball game.”

Wide receiver Cedric Tillman didn’t have a say in the choice, but is comfortable with Milton leading the offense.

“Me, personally, it wasn’t my decision. We’re looking forward to Joe starting, feel the quarterbacks are more than capable, looking forward to Joe starting. I think he will lead our team well,” Tillman said.