Tennessee Volunteers Football: Will Tyler Bray Return for His Senior Season?

Clint EilandAnalyst IApril 5, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 26:  Tyler Bray #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats  at Commonwealth Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It goes without saying that Tyler Bray is the best Tennessee quarterback since Peyton Manning. Heck, he even broke some of Peyton's records.

But another similarity that deserves focus is this: Will Tyler Bray return for his Senior season at Tennessee?

It certainly does seem like Bray could be the second quarterback taken next year. Behinds Matt Barkley, he is the best quarterback in the draft. Some places like this one have him being the second pick overall for 2013.

Clearly he has a reason to go to the NFL. After all, we see a lot of prospects forgo years of eligibility because of the guarantee of good money from professional sports teams.

Bray has the size and skill set to make it in the NFL. As of now, he could easily leave after junior year. 

But should he?

The biggest concern with him is the experience. He has yet to fully complete a season for the Vols, which raises questions about his health and his performance against top tier teams.

Bray has yet to face a very good SEC team yet. The only notable games would be against Florida twice, South Carolina and Georgia. Missing the Vols' toughest stretch of the season in 2011 did not help calm these concerns. 

That is one reason why you see so many teams hesitant about Ryan Tannehill. He only had one full year of experience, and there are still question marks around his game. Sure, he will probably be picked in the first two rounds, but teams will still be taking a gamble on him. 

It would serve Bray well to have two full seasons of playing time to refine his game and show some more of his talent.

The one aspect I haven't touched on yet that is arguably more important is the same aspect that kept Manning at UT. 


Manning is arguably the biggest legend at Tennessee because of his choice to leave behind money and NFL fame for the love from the Vols fans. He darn well knew big things awaited him at the next level. But he also knew that he would be adored by Tennessee fans for years to come.

If Bray decided to come back for his senior season, he would become yet another loved icon. Fans would always remember him as the guy that turned around Tennessee football. The man that started back the winning tradition. Whether or not he deserves that moniker isn't the issue.

It is really up to Bray right now. He has two paths that he must decide between. 

But if you ask me, I think he stays.