Under the radar

A year ago he was just about the hottest thing in Big Orange Country. This year, though, he's flying so far underneath the radar that he's in danger of grazing Knoxville's taller billboards and tree tops.

That's what completing just 45.5 percent of his passes in 2005 has done for Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge. Twelve months removed from being the toast of Tennessee, he is simply toast. Last July it seemed that every magazine cover had Ainge on it. But when Collegefootballnews.com posted its list of the top 25 college quarterbacks earlier today, Ainge was NOT on it.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Considering the paltry numbers he posted last fall, Ainge's slide toward oblivion is understandable. He threw more interceptions (7) than touchdown passes (5). He passed for just 737 yards. His passer-efficiency rating (89.94) was horrible. His most memorable play was an underhand desperation toss as he was being slung to the turf that was intercepted and returned three yards for a touchdown by LSU linebacker Kenneth Hollis.

Not surpriringly, Notre Dame's Brady Quinn tops the Collegefootballnews.com QB list. He's followed by Ohio State's Troy Smith at No. 2, Michigan State's Drew Stanton at No. 3, Arizona State's Sam Keller at No. 4 and Iowa's Drew Tate at No. 5.

Three Southeastern Conference quarterbacks made the second 10. Florida's Chris Leak checks in at No. 11, LSU's JaMarcus Russell is No. 12 and Auburn's Brandon Cox holds down spot No. 16.

It could be that Ainge's omission from the list will prove beneficial. Perhaps he'll respond as positively to being under-hyped heading into 2006 as he did negatively to being over-hyped heading into 2005.

Time will tell.

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