Ryan Express to Relaunch

Left a quarterback without a system in the Michigan coaching overhaul, 6-foot-6, 225-pound Ryan Mallett of Texarkana, Texas, is looking to make a soft landing in the pocket of a pro-style offense such as run by Tennessee.

An ill fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread formation, which requires a quicksilver QB, it is a decision that makes sense for both Mallett and Michigan. And Tennessee would make even more sense as a new locale for the tall Texan if former Michigan QB coach Scott Loeffler and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord are hired for a hitch on The Hill.

He has to sit out a year wherever he goes, but would have three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2009. He would have a good chance of starting at least two of those seasons. The fact he stepped in for injured Chad Henne and played in 11 games for the Wolverines as a true freshman, completing 61-of-141 passes for 892 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions means he's thrown more passes in competition that any returning signal caller on the Vols current roster.

For comparison sake consider Jonathan Crompton, who will be a redshirt junior, is 38-of-78 for 498 yards, five TDs and four INTs in two years of competition. He has started one game and played the last three quarters against LSU in relief of an injured Erik Ainge in 2006. Last fall Crompton only threw 12 passes, completing seven for 97 yards, one TD and a pair of picks. The only other Vol to have thrown a pass in competition is Lucas Taylor.

Although following his former coaches is the logical lure to Tennessee it's not the only one. The Vols history of success with tall quarterbacks — i.e., Peyton Manning and Erik Ainge, who both measure in the 6-6 range — is point in the Vols favor and testimony to their commitment to the pro-style attack. Another selling point is the culture which would be less of an adjustment for a young man who grew up on the Arkansas-Texas border.

The scouting report on Mallett, who was ranked the nation's No. 2 QB prospect in the Class of 2007 by Scout.com goes like this: a big guy with a big gun that can use that arm strength to stretch the field and his height to see and exploit the middle with darts. Estimated to throw the ball 70 MPH he probably has a stronger arm than any Vol QB since Heath Shuler. The drawback is he tends to rely on his arm strength too much and it shows in his accuracy. Needs to tighten his mechanics and concentrate on fundamentals to realize his full potential. Mallett has good pocket presence and moves well for a man his size. However he won't make a living running in the SEC and he would be hard pressed to beat Ainge, who clocks a faster 40, in a foot race.

There's also the debate as to whether the Vols would be better served to have a dual threat QB that can put pressure on the defense and help neutralize its numbers advantage much as they did with Tee Martin.

Mallett plans to enroll in another college this semester which means a decision is forthcoming at anytime. He is also said to be considering Texas A&M, Arkansas and UCLA.


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