Searching For Peyton Manning

Stephen SmithContributor IAugust 9, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lawrence Marsh #90 and teammate Jermaine Cunningham #49 of the Florida Gators try to stop Jonathan Crompton #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers during their game at Neyland Stadium on September 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Unlike Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton's situation back in 1994, there doesn't appear to be a Peyton Manning-type quarterback ensconced on the Volunteers' bench just hoping for a little playing time 15 years later.

Injuries that year to both Colquitt and Helton forced Manning onto the big stage, but a repeat of history could make new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin's first year on Rocky Top an unmitigated disaster.

Right now, it's senior Jonathan Crompton's job to lose with junior Nick Stephens following closely behind. Statistically, the pair combined for eight touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. After them, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is working without a net.

The other four signal-callers on the roster, senior Bram Cannon, sophomore Nick Lamaison and freshmen Mike Fromke and Mike Rozier, don't have a single Football Bowl Championship (better known as Div. I) pass attempt between them.

Lamaison, however, did pass for 3,479 yards and 36 touchdowns as a freshman for the Mt. San Antonio Junior College (Ca.) last season. However, that's a long way from action in the rugged Southeastern Conference. 

The long and short of things in 2009 is that no matter how much of a liability the quarterback position appears to be right now, it's going to have to do.

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However, when Kiffin sits down to write out his Christmas list for 2009, a blue-chip quarterback prospect should be at the very top. Known as a great recruiter, Kiffin will need to work his magic back in California and, more specifically, throughout SEC country.

Putting up electronic billboards (first in Florida and Georgia, then eventually all over the South) promoting Tennessee football with the motto, "It's Time" was a publicity coup for the school. It definitely keeps the Volunteers on everyone's mind for good or bad.

Hopefully, Kiffin will have another one for next spring that says, "It's Time...to find a quarterback.


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