Frosh QB Banks may play

Media and fans who follow UT football assumed that Wake Forest transfer C.J. Leak would back up Vol quarterback Casey Clausen this fall and that freshman QB James Banks would sit out the season as a redshirt. <p> Maybe not.

Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer hinted this week that he's considering playing Banks this season and saving his redshirt year for possible future use.

When asked point-blank if he's planning to redshirt Banks, Fulmer replied:

''I think there's good competition there (at quarterback). As you've seen with Constantin (Ritzmann), Jarvis Reado, Steve Johnson and a number of other guys -- and now Kevin Burnett -- it's not always the best thing to redshirt them all as freshmen.

''That (redshirt) year can pop up in some good places ... Willie Miles, for instance. I'd rather them play and get some time (as freshmen), then you can decide down the road what you're going to do.''

Ritzmann, Reado, Johnson, Burnett and Miles played as true freshmen. Each was injured later in his career and each was able to use the redshirt year while recovering.

Another consideration is that some players who redshirt as freshmen wind up turning pro prior to their senior season, meaning UT wasted a year of their eligibility. Or, as Fulmer put it:

''If he (Banks) is good enough, he might not be here but three years anyway.''

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