Christmas came early for Vol football coach Phil Fulmer. The news that
freshman quarterback Brent Schaeffer has been cleared to play in the Cotton
Bowl may be the best present Fulmer could've gotten.
will start at QB for the fourth game in a row. But Schaeffer,
who hasn't played since he suffered a fractured clavicle Oct. 30 against
in Game 8, will get some snaps in a backup role. Schaeffer's
athleticism and scrambling ability will provide an added dimension for a Vol
offense that has been forced to carry the team latey while the defense
After a six-week layoff, Schaeffer is understandably rusty. Still, if he
progresses as quickly in postseason as he did in preseason -- he won the
Game 1 starting job with his superior work last August -- he should be a big
benefit against Texas A&M.
Fellow freshman Erik Ainge remains a longshot to play in the Cotton Bowl. He
separated his right (throwing) shoulder Nov. 6 against Notre Dame, and the
Vols are wary of rushing him back into action too quickly. Since Schaeffer
is a southpaw, the injury to his right collarbone should not interfere with
his throwing motion.