Following Tyler Bray's decision to declare for the 2013 NFL draft, the Tennessee Volunteers will need a new starting quarterback to emerge in spring practice. However, there is much speculation as to who will be the Vols' signal caller next season.
With new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, Tennessee will run a different offensive scheme compared to former O.C. Jim Chaney's air raid attack. Bajakian's scheme at Cincinnati relied heavily on mobile quarterbacks and fast running backs, which plays to the favor of the Vols' less experienced quarterbacks.
This article will break down what each quarterback brings to the Volunteers, and his chances of starting during the 2013 season.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 213 lbs
Rivals: 3-star, No. 24 pro-style QB; No. 16 player in South Carolina
ESPN: 3-star, No. 16 pocket passer QB; No. 12 player in South Carolina
247Sports: 3-star prospect
Games Played Comp/ATT PCT Yards Efficiency TD INT YARDS/GAME
9 63-110 57.3 738 107.54 1 5 82.0
Justin Worley was named the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior quarterback for Northwestern High School in South Carolina. However, he has seen little success during the small amount of playing time he's had at Tennessee.
Worley burned his redshirt during his first season at UT following Tyler Bray's hand injury and poor performances by Matt Simms. It is difficult to judge Worley's play based on poor performances as a freshman against the top tier teams of the SEC.
Worley has the experience advantage over the entire depth chart by actually taking a snap under center. No other quarterback on UT's current roster has even entered a game for the Volunteers.
After sitting behind Tyler Bray for two seasons, Worley was believed to be the front runner for the starting job once Bray left. However, many speculate that he does not fit Tennessee's new scheme, as he lacks the mobility other options have.
Entering spring practice, I'd say Worley is the assumed starter, and therefore has the best odds. However, I feel the position battle is still anyone's race depending on the outcome of spring practice.
Chance of starting: Good (45 percent)
If Worley doesn't win the outright QB battle, look for him to transfer before the season starts.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 226 lbs
Rivals: 4-star, No. 8 pro-style QB; No. 42 overall player in Florida
ESPN: 3-star, No. 25 pocket passer QB; No. 54 overall player in Florida
247Sports: 3-star, No. 15 pro-style QB; No. 52 overall player in Florida
Nathan Peterman spent his first year in Knoxville as a redshirt freshman. Although he lacks the in-game experience that Worley has, he does have a familiarity with the team that the incoming freshmen QBs lack.
Peterman was also a highly recruited player by new UT head coach Butch Jones while at Cincinnati. Bringing over his offensive coordinator and scheme, Jones will attempt to turn the UT offense into something similar to what he ran with the Bearcats.
Peterman is a great option for this scheme. He has the mobility that Worley lacks, while still being regarded as a pro-style QB. His time at the collegiate level also give him an advantage over the Vols' two incoming freshman quarterbacks.
Chance of starting: Good (40 percent)
There is a good chance that Peterman outplays Worley in spring practices, and becomes the starting quarterback as he may prove to be the best fit for the Jones/Bajakian offensive scheme.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 190 lbs
Rivals: 3-star, No. 40 pro-style QB; No. 42 overall player in Georgia
ESPN: 4-star, No. 4 dual-threat QB; No. 21 overall player in Georgia
247Sports: 4-star, No. 107 overall player; No. 8 pro-style QB; No. 10 overall player in Georgia
Joshua Dobbs was committed to Arizona State University before switching to Tennessee on national signing day. One of Butch Jones' selling points to Dobbs, as with all recruits, was the chance to compete to play early.
From all indications, Jones seems to view Dobbs' abilities and intangibles very highly. To me, I think the fact that Jones and staff recruited Dobbs so heavily away from ASU while already having the commitment of Riley Ferguson gives Dobbs the slight advantage.
However, I don't see Jones and staff going with either rookie QB out of the gate. I can see Dobbs having a greater chance to play as time moves on.
However, the starting position seems to belong to Worley followed by Peterman. Also, UT may want Dobbs put on some size before playing in an SEC offense.
Chance of starting: Slim (10 percent)
Height/Weight: 6'2", 190 lbs
Rivals: 3-star, No. 23 pro-style QB; No. 19 overall player in North Carolina
ESPN: 4-star, No. 16 pocket passer QB; No. 6 overall player in North Carolina
247Sports: 3-star, No. 30 pro-style QB; No. 20 overall player in North Carolina
Riley Ferguson committed to Tennessee in June and has stuck with the Vols through a miserable season and a coaching search. Ferguson had an impressive high school career with Butler High School in North Carolina in both football and basketball.
Similar to Dobbs, Ferguson is a more athletic QB than Worley, but his inexperience and size are what will hinder his chances the most. Out of the two, I see Dobbs as the quarterback most likely to make an impact sooner.
I doubt Ferguson will see a great deal of action as a freshman and will likely redshirt.
Chances of starting: Likely redshirt (5 percent)