On top of having sophomore Tyler Bray primed and ready to build off a sterling finish to his first season on campus, the Volunteers also have a capable, experienced back-up in senior Matt Simms, who completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 1,460 yards in 2010.
However, all good things must come to an end. Simms graduates at season's end. Bray could opt to leave school early for the NFL draft after the 2012 season. That would leave the top of the depth chart bare going into 2013.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and his staff realize that and they are hard at work preparing for when that day arrives. Three-star signal-caller Justin Worley enrolling in January certainly gives the position depth, but the staff would like to add another arm to the mix.
One such player could be Skyler Mornhinweg out of St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia, Pa.
Mornhinweg has taken calls from many BCS schools, including Tennessee. He is a three-star prospect, ranked the No. 44 QB in the country by Scout.com and said he would like to decide on a school within a couple weeks.
"I've got a handful of teams that I've been looking at," he told InsideTennessee.com. "I don't want to really name any names because I don't want to hurt any program's feelings.
"There are some who I have been in contact a lot with. I've been in contact with Tennessee recently. I know my mom and dad have too."
The right-handed slinger said he is looking at depth charts among many other factors in his recruitment.
"I have talked about it because that factors in, but I know there's going to be competition anywhere I go," Mornhinweg said. "That does seem like a good situation. Bray, I've watched him a little bit. My dad and I actually watched some film on Tennessee today, but he seems like he's an outstanding quarterback."
Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, who earned a spot on the 25th Anniversary Team after an illustrious career at Central Florida himself, has been Mornhinweg's lead recruiter for the Vols.
|Tennessee quarterbacks coach, Darin Hinshaw.|
Mornhinweg, who worked out at Tennessee's camp in June, said he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, which is plenty fast enough for the bootlegging of the Vols' pro-style offense.
"I like to get out of the pocket," he said. "I've always admired Steve Young, the way he played the game, and now Mike Vick. I know Mike Vick's like a freak of nature with how athletic he is. I love the way they play the game, how they can move around and make plays. Also, Mike Vick is getting much better as a pocket passer."
Bray didn't take over as the starting quarterback in coordinator Jim Chaney's offense until the Memphis game late in the season. The true freshman still flung it for a season total of 1,849 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"I think it's a great offense to be in," said Mornhinweg, who noted that while he's adept at the drops from center, he still has tons of room for improvement. "We're not in the pro-style that much. I mean I'm under center a little bit for my team, but we run a little bit of the spread. I love the pro-style, and I think that would be a good fit for me."
Getting coached up and logging a sufficient amount of reps in preparation of college football shouldn't be an issue for Mornhinweg, who is lucky enough to have a father who coaches professionally. Marty Mornhinweg is in his ninth season with the Philadelphia Eagles and is currently their assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.
"He's been great," Skyler said of his father. "He knows so much about the game. Whenever I need some work or want to watch some film, he's always there, and he helps me out a ton.
"With recruiting, I go to him a lot because he knows so much and he gives me a lot of information. He knows about each college because he's been around it for years now. So, I look to him a lot in making my decision."
The NFL owners and the NFL Players Association being unable to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement have allowed the Mornhinweg's to get more time together.
"I know he's raring to go and get back into coaching, but it's been great having him at home and being able work with him more and hang out some too," Skyler said.
Mornhinweg isn't St. Joseph's only college prospect. Also getting some looks are offensive lineman Luke Hutkin, wide receiver Jim Hurley, linebacker Eric Medes and even freshman back John Reid is turning heads already with alleged sub-4.6 speed.
That talent should help the squad improve on its 4-7 record from 2010.
"I'm really excited for this season. I think we can be really good. We're looking to win state. We've got a lot of work to do, but we're all real confident about it," Mornhinweg said.
Mornhinweg enters his senior year with a 3.2 GPA and scored an 1800 on the SAT.
Since St. Joseph's requires students to take six languages in four years, students are not allowed to graduate early. Mornhinweg is "wide open" on deciding on a major but may follow in his dad's footsteps, saying he would "love to coach" down the road.