QB race too close to call

Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders admitted today what practice observers have been suspecting for a week: Tennessee's quarterback race is too close to call. He also suggested that two freshmen could figure in the mix.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer announced at the beginning of spring drills that he planned to name a starter by the conclusion of spring workouts. Instead, senior C.J. Leak and junior Rick Clausen appear deadlocked for the job as Saturday's Orange & White spring game approaches.

''Obviously, the biggest question we have is quarterback,'' Sanders said. ''I don't think we have reached a resolution at that position yet. I think C.J. and Rick have each done some good things and they have each done some bad things. It's a very competitive situation.

''Obviously, what happens today (in practice) and Saturday will have some bearing on it, but I don't think we're going to be able to come out of spring practice and say who is the starter. I think it's something that's going to carry over into the fall.''

The two-man race will become a four-man race in August, when touted freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer join the quarterback derby.

''Obviously, we'll include the two freshmen when they get here ... and see how fast we can get them ready,'' Sanders said. ''The good thing is, what we're doing right now offensively is not that hard for a quarterback to get ready to do.''

The coordinator estimated that it normally takes ''eight to 10 weeks to get a freshman ready,'' but that, given the scaled-down offense the Vols are running now, ''it may not take that long, and maybe we can get those guys in the mix a little faster.''

Although the offense has struggled all spring, Sanders remains upbeat.

''I think we have a chance to be pretty good,'' he said.


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