Schaeffer still in UT plans?

Freshman quarterback Brent Schaeffer still figures in the plans of Tennessee's football team. That comes from no less an expert than head coach Phillip Fulmer.

After starting Games 1, 2 and 3, Schaeffer surrended the starting job to fellow freshman Erik Ainge for Games 4 and 5 but continued to play roughly 50 percent of the snaps. Ainge has gotten almost every snap the past two weeks, however. Schaeffer played just one series in Game 6 at Ole Miss and never left the bench in Game 7 vs. Alabama. Asked after the Bama game why Schaeffer saw no action, even with Ainge struggling a bit, Fulmer replied, ''We were trying to win.''

Schaeffer has fielded some punts in practice recently, which suggests his opportunities to play quarterback are unlikely to increase anytime soon. Still, Fulmer says the quick-footed lefty from Deerfield Beach, Fla., figures prominently in Tennessee's plans.

''I think there's still a place for Brent to come in and help our team,'' the head man said at his Tuesday news conference. ''Obviously, Erik has put himself in the position to be THE quarterback right now. But Brent yesterday (Monday) had one of his best days at practice. I don't know if the burden (of no longer starting) has lifted a bit or what.''

Since reporters are not allowed to watch practice after the first 30 minutes, media members do not know if Schaeffer's practice habits have deteriorated since he surrendered the first-team job. Schaeffer is not available for interviews, so there is no way for the media to assess his mindset. If the young man's attitude has slipped that could explain his recent inactivity.

''Personalities or egos right now have to be set aside,'' Fulmer said. ''We're trying to win a championship. I like the way he (Schaeffer) approached things yesterday. Certainly, there are places that he can help us win, with his arm and his legs.''

Inside Tennessee Top Stories