Crompton Likely Lost for Season

Tennessee fans have long anticipated the debut of premier quarterback prospect Jonathan Crompton in orange. Now it appears that wait will continue into 2006, as he is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery next month that will likely result in a redshirt season.

Crompton has been tagged as UT's QB of the future since he showed up on campus with game film to show offensive coordinator Randy Sanders following his sophomore season at Erwin High School in 2002. The excitement grew as Crompton bloomed into a national talent at Tuscola High School and was named to the Parade and U.S. Army All-American teams. The excitment never abated despite the fact the Vols had veterans returning at quarterback this fall.

The Waynesville, N.C., native reportedly injured his throwing shoulder during voluntary workouts on campus last month. Rest and treatment didn't relieve the discomfort and a recent MRI revealed a torn labral cartilage. A tentative date of Aug. 8 has been set for surgery after which doctors will be able to better determine the length of recovery. In a best case scenario, Crompton will be able to resume passing this year. In a worst case scenario, he will miss the 2005 season as well as spring practice.

With a pair of experienced quarterbacks, Rick Clausen and Erik Ainge, battling for the starting job, Crompton may have been redshirted this year anyway. However it now seems like a certainty.

Although the loss of Crompton may not impact UT's season, it does place a premium on the health of the two remaining scholarship signal callers on hand. That's a far cry from national signing day last February, when the Vols had three former starters set to return at quarterback in addition to Jonathan Crompton, who came in as the No. 2 rated high school signal caller in America.

The suspension and subsequent dismissal of Brent Schaeffer from the squad, followed by the loss of Crompton has reduced those ranks in half before preseason practice has even begun. Two quarterbacks weren't enough to complete the 2004 campaign at UT. Will two be enough for a 2005 schedule that is loaded with tough games in college football's most physical conference?

Certainly UT's coaching staff will examine alternatives. Jim Bob Cooter, a 6-foot-1, 228-pound junior from Fayetteville, Tenn., has been in the program three years and knows the system well. Other possibilities are Sinclair Cannon a redshirt freshman who is currently listed as a safety. Fifth-year senior receiver C.J. Fayton was also a quarterback in high school and played there as a freshman at Tennessee, but his value as a veteran pass catcher makes such a move unlikely unless there is an emergency.

If there is a positive in this unfortunate development it could be that Crompton will not lose a year of eligibility and can compete for the starting job next fall when he will know the system better and the competitors will be fewer.

It should also make it easier for the Vols to sign another QB prospect for the Class of 2006.

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