Ainge's arm 'fully back'

Vol quarterback Erik Ainge suffered a third-degree separation of his right shoulder in Game 9 against Notre Dame last November but you'd never know it watching him fling the football this preseason. He's throwing with plenty of zip and accuracy.

"You can tell now that my arm's fully back," he said recently.

Following his injury last fall, Ainge missed Game 10 vs. Vanderbilt, Game 11 vs. Kentucky and the SEC Championship Game against Auburn. He had a chance to play in the Cotton Bowl game against Texas A&M but decided against it.

"It was tempting," he noted, "but I would've had to push through it real hard. As good a job as Rick (Clausen) was doing, it didn't make any sense to try it."

Ainge also said he opted for additional rest because "I knew I'd be back and be healthy. I wanted to heal 100 percent."

He might've come back a little quicker with surgery but there was a potential side effect that troubled him.

"They (doctors) said I could get surgery and there'd be a chance I'd be able to come back and you wouldn't be able to tell," he recalled. "But there was also a chance I could lose five to 10 yards on my deep ball. One of my strengths as a quarterback is my arm strength, so I decided to rehab it and let it heal. It turned out good."


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