With the recent revelation that quarterback Tyler Bray has decided to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft this coming April, new Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones will be faced with finding a new starting signal-caller when the Vols take to the field for spring practice.
While junior Justin Worley may seem to have the advantage over other quarterbacks on the roster, he certainly is not guaranteed to lead the offense onto the field when the Volunteers open their season against Austin Peay.
Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman could very well emerge as the front-runner, especially after the coaching change that brought Jones to Knoxville from the University of Cincinnati after Derek Dooley's firing.
While attending Bartram Trail High School in Florida, Peterman was regarded by the major scouting services as a 3 or 4-star recruit. His mechanics were considered to be good, and his arm strength was highly rated by many who had observed him on the field.
But where he stands to benefit most from the coaching change is in his previous relationship with Coach Jones and the new Vols staff.
Peterman was heavily recruited by Jones and very nearly became a Bearcat. Also, the young quarterback is familiar with the system offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian will employ, having run a similar one in high school.
It should be further considered that with all else being equal, a freshman winning the job should mean the coaching staff would have a quarterback who could be in place for multiple years.
And it's not like Peterman would not have had a chance to rise on the depth chart no matter who was named as Dooley's replacement. By all accounts, he was showing real promise during early workouts last year until a finger injury sidelined him.
Of course, the start of the 2013 college football season is still months away and the Vols haven't even had their first practice yet under Coach Jones. However, by the time of this spring's Orange and White game, Nathan Peterman very well may have emerged as the leader in the competition to become Tennessee's next starting quarterback.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Please visit RacingWithRich.com for NASCAR news and views and TennesseeRacer.com for dirt racing news from around the Volunteer State.