Crompton's Last Stand

tre wellsCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks on against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Battered and bruised, Jonathan Crompton walked out of Neyland Stadium, on Saturday, a beaten man.


Unfortunately it was a familiar feeling to him.


The fifth year senior has worked so hard off the field it just seems unfair. For all those players who rose from nothing, who captured glory when they were slighted by recruiters, there are others, who were expected to shine, and just didn’t. They just couldn’t.


Crompton was a five start recruit. He and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets were two of the top three high school quarterbacks of the class of 2005. After working with former NFL head coach, Sam Wyche, Crompton was said to have all the tools and was as physically a gifted quarterback as you could want.


For whatever reason, it has never translated it to success on the field.


Now with his football career slipping through his hands, Crompton finds himself running out of chances to positively etch his name in Volunteer history.


In an offseason that showed so much promise, Crompton was believed to be just enough to, manage the game with improved talent around him, and turn his beloved program into a winner again after the second losing season in the last four years.


The win against Western Kentucky paved the way for heightened expectations, and set the stage for a rematch with UCLA in which Crompton could exercise the demons of last year’s melt down in California.


It just wasn’t meant to be.


UCLA’s defense stacked the box against the run all day and forced the deer in the headlights to either throw the ball or get run over. The result was no different than last years game except that UCLA finished the job in regulation this time.


Crompton now has the weight of a Vol-nation on his shoulders.


He doesn’t get the reprieve of being yanked in favor of the back up quarterback. The entire world, including the incumbent coaching staff, knows that Nick Stephens is not the answer.


No, Crompton has to regroup. He has to revert back to a time when football was fun for him. He has to remember he has the tools that made him a five star recruit. He has to remember that all is not lost on the hill.


The Volunteers are not as good as we thought they were, but not as bad as we think they are.


Crompton is not a quitter. If anything, he is the old retired boxer that still thinks he can climb in the ring with the younger ones. His career is on the verge of being a punch line, and his fans/friends are diminishing in numbers.


He is a gambler sitting at the poker table shaking his head at the fact his straight was just beaten by four kings...again.


His bottle of whiskey is empty, and the stacks of chips that belong to his opponents sit in front of them like facades on a building. It must be a lonely feeling.


Even the most optimistic gambler would know that the few chips left in his hand can’t guarantee him a winning hand. They can only make him stay in the game.


Crompton has to remember he is still in the game.


He has to realize there are still fans in his corner. And despite the fact he is facing possibly the most talented team in NCAA history this week, Florida hasn’t won the game yet.


He still has a chance to do something special at Tennessee.


They say your character is not defined by success, but rather how you deal with failure. Crompton keeps playing the hand that’s dealt to him. Here’s hoping Saturday it’s four aces.