Tyler Bray is the most important player on the Tennessee Volunteers. The junior quarterback has shown a ton of potential in his two years, but he's not without his faults. Here are his strengths and weaknesses.
The California native used to sport one of the most awkward frames in college football. He was 6'6" and 210 pounds, a very slight body for an SEC starter. But all signs point toward a commitment level that has seen him bulk up 30 pounds, something I can't wait to see on Aug. 31.
One way to look at his remaining weaknesses is to see them as opportunities. For a quarterback as good as Bray, he still has room to improve and vault himself to the top of the college football world.
There's no question about it: Tyler Bray's biggest strength is his huge arm. He averages over eight yards per pass attempt in his college career due to his fortunate tendency to deliver deep passes into the open arms of his terrific receivers.
Bray's 81-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter against Montana was the longest pass of 2011 in the conference, and you have to remember that he missed five of the Vols' 12 games. He surely could've surpassed his own mark.
He furthermore showed patience when utilizing his arm's strength last fall, throwing 17 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Bray needs to focus his excitement in 2012, bound to be overflowing with the kind of targets he has at his disposal, and keep that touchdown-interception ratio in order to make most use of his greatest strength.
Not until recently has Tyler Bray had any off-field behavioral problems, but his silly prank revealed that his main weakness still rests between his ears.
Against Kentucky, Bray's leadership was nowhere to be found. That game was a meltdown on every level of the team, but I just want to pose the question: What would Peyton have done? That's a tough comparison, though. How about what would Casey Clausen have done? Rick Clausen?
Tennessee has had too many weak-willed quarterbacks in recent years. With the kind of talent and experience Bray has, he can break that trend.
How this incident is viewed in the future is entirely in Bray's control. If he shakes it off and commands leadership, we'll all forget. If he starts to have other on- and off-field issues, this will be the straw that broke the camel's back.
My appeal: Tyler! If you'll study your playbook, focus on building good practice habits, and stay completely out of trouble, your bank account will be seven digits larger in April!
The SEC, winner of six consecutive BCS National Championships, has only three quarterbacks returning this fall with more than one year of significant experience.
Aaron Murray of Georgia is one. He's a great player and will be a terrific professional one day. Chris Relf, converted tight end, is another. He's hardly a talented quarterback, playing the part of Jared Lorenzen (minus the passing and punting abilities) for Mississippi State.
The last is Tyler Bray. So while Bray has missed some of the Tennessee's biggest and toughest games in his two years, he's by far one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the conference. I'd rank him behind Murray in that regard.
Even SEC newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri are playing first- and second-year quarterbacks. Bray needs to use this experience as an advantage against opposing quarterbacks in big moments during key games.
Even though Tyler Bray has been the starter for two years, he has yet to play Alabama. He has to play Georgia from start to finish. He has played South Carolina for only a half. He missed both games against LSU.
Because of his youth in 2010 and injury in 2011, Bray has missed some of the most difficult and most important SEC games that the Volunteers play each year. That brings up another weakness of not having much big-game experience.
While Da'Rick Rogers will be playing Alabama for the third time, this October will be Bray's first ever start against the defending conference and national champions.
Sure, that can bring the best out of you. But it also means the steep learning curve of SEC play must level out for Bray if Tennessee wants to compete.
Entering his third season, Tyler Bray only has per game statistics to brag about. He has yet to start more than seven games in a year, leaving his seasons' numbers lower than they could be.
For a guy with so much hype and so much talent, Bray really has yet to do anything on the big stage, and he knows it. This fall is a chance to change all that. That mindset is a huge advantage.
Even with limited playing time, Bray's potential is being recognized by numerous experts. He has been named to the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback of the Year Award and Maxwell Award watch lists. That's an incredible honor for a guy who has started 12 games in two years.
Is there anything more dangerous than an experienced quarterback with a powerful arm and a chip on his shoulder?