Lane Kiffin's Dilemma: Where Is the Next Peyton Manning?

JESSI SHARPECorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

23 Nov 1997:   Quarterback Peyton Manning of the Tennessee Volunteers stands on the field during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.  Tennessee won the game 59-31. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

People wondered what in the world was wrong with Lane Kiffin when he told Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty that their services would not be needed in his pro-style offense. I, on the other hand, figured that if anyone could see the kind of quarterback they need, it would be Kiffin—the man who is being paid to coach the team.

Not myself, who is just a Soldier with no qualifications of being a coach, except playing 2A high school football in Northeast Tennessee. That's also the same kind of qualifications for most of the people that were calling Kiffin crazy for telling those two talented kids thanks, but no thanks.

I can see why they would raise some eyebrows, however. Tennessee has no proven college-caliber quarterbacks. Jonathan Crompton struggled all season last year, as did Nick Stevens. The backup. B.J. Coleman, who was everyone's dark horse to win the job, has transferred to Chattanooga, stating he wasn't getting a fair chance at competing for the No. 1 spot.

We have a walk-on, Mike Rozier, who decided to come and play some football after a failed MLB stint with the Red Sox.  

Then there is Kiffin's new problem of not being able to get any of his targets in recruiting for his system to come and play for him.

Of course, the selling point is come play football for a prestigious program that has jack squat for a quarterback depth chart. That would seem to be a big lure for a kid that wants to come in and try to make a difference right away. However, these top prospects are proving otherwise.

Not saying that a kid has to be a five-star to be a great quarterback, hence Sam Bradford. The list is getting thin in top-ranked pro-style quarterbacks though. It looks like Kiffin might have to settle for a three-star and perhaps hope he has a diamond in the rough like Bradford. 

It seems that Kiffin is getting a little desperate, as he is looking at dual-threat quarterbacks now. I thought he was a pro-style guy from everything I read. Maybe he thinks he takes a run-first kid with a great arm and teaches him to stay in the pocket.

Who knows what going on with that, but I'm sure Kiffin is about to find out what coaching is all about in the quarterback position anyway. 

Below is a list of quarterbacks prospects. You will notice a trend though: All the top ones are almost gone. I believe in Kiffin and his staff, but even my non-qualified self is starting to get concerned.

PRO-STYLE
NAMEHEIGHTWEIGHTFROMCOMMITTED
PHILLIP SIMS6'1"209CHESAPEAKE, VAALABAMA
JESSE SCROGGINS6'3"195LAKEWOOD, CANO
JAKE HEAPS6'2"195SAMMAMISH, WABYU
ANDREW HENDRIX6'3"220CINCINNATI, OHNO
NICK MONTANA6'2"177WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CAWASHINGTON
CODY BLANCHARD6'1"180CENRE, ALNO
TYLER BROSIUS6'3"233WAYNEVILLE, NCVIRGINIA
TYLER SHREVE6'4"210REDLANDS, CANO
DAVID PYLAND6'2"175SOUTHLAKE, TXNO
MICHAEL STRAUSS6'2"208MIAMI, FLNO
CLINT TRICKETT6'2" 175TALLAHASSEE, FLNO
JOSEPH BRENNAN6'4"178CHERRY HILL, NJNO
DYLAN THOMPSON6'3"201BOILING SPRINGS, SCSOUTH CAROLINA
JONATHAN WATERS6'4"178LINDALE, GANO
DUAL THREAT
BARRY BRUNETTI6'0"207MEMPHIS, TNWEST VIRGINIA
MUCHIE LEGAUX6'4"185NEW ORLEANS, LANO
JAMES FRANKLIN6'2"218CORINTH, TXMISSOURI
JEFFREY GODFREY5'11"167MIAMI, FLNO
DARIAN STONE5'11180CLINTON, TNNO
TIM SMITH6'2190FORT PIERCE, FLNO
GABRIEL HENDERSON6'0182RALEIGH, NCNO