March 31, 2010

QB talk, no rush to name starter

In most years, an open quarterback position with multiple candidates in the mix to fill the vacancy would be the hottest topic in spring practice. Not so much this year in Knoxville. Not with a brand new head coach, and a new-look staff for fans to speculate on. But the little matter of choosing a signal caller remains, though a resolution on the starter could have to wait until August.

The candidates are fifth-year senior Nick Stephens, junior-college transfer Matt Sims and freshman early-enrollee Tyler Bray.

Stephens started six games as a sophomore, but failed to ever gain any traction in overtaking Jonathan Crompton last season. Whether Stephens' failure to ever get what seemed like a real look was a result of Lane Kiffin's firm belief that he had to build up Crompton's confidence at all costs, or a true reflection of his preparedness is a matter of some debate. Either way, the fact remains that he was largely unused in 2009, but is far and away the most experience option for the staff.

Simms spent one year at Louisville before transferring to play last season at El Camino C.C. His age gives him some maturity and he's been exposed to a couple of different offensive systems at the college level, but he's still largely an unknown.

Bray opened spring practice as the potential 'future' of the position, but coaches are very quick to point out that every day on the practice field is a learning experience for him. They're also quick to point out that he's got a lot of ability.

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