'New beginning' for Crompton

No one in Big Orange country seems happier about the recent hiring of David Cutcliffe's successor than Erik Ainge's successor.

Rising junior Jonathan Crompton, the heir-apparent as Tennessee's quarterback after two years as Ainge's backup, is elated about the arrival of Dave Clawson as the Vols' new offensive coordinator/quarterback coach.

"I didn't get to spend Christmas eve or Christmas day at home," Crompton said, flashing a soft grin, "so this was my Christmas."

Getting some new plays this spring may not be quite as thrilling for an adult as getting some new toys on Christmas morning is for a child, but Crompton clearly is pumped about the arrival of the new offensive overseer.

"Oh, yeah," he said, his tone uncharacteristically enthusiastic. "The only way I can describe it is ‘excited.'"

Crompton came to Tennessee as a heralded prep star from Waynesville, N.C., but shoulder surgery short-circuited his first year of college. He got one start as a redshirt freshman in 2006 while Ainge was hobbled by ankle injury, then scarcely left the bench in 2007.

Once he heard that Clawson was leaving the head coaching position at Richmond to join the UT staff, Crompton located some films of the Spiders' 2007 opener against Vanderbilt to get a look at Clawson's offensive system.

"From what I've seen," Crompton said, "I'm going to like it."

Asked what stood out on the Vandy-Richmond film, Crompton replied: "Just the way the plays are called. It seems like he has an understanding of why he's doing it, and I really, really feel comfortable with that."

After hearing Clawson discuss his offensive philosophy, Crompton feels even better about UT's new direction.

"I really do," he said. "Getting playmakers the ball … that's how you win ballgames in my opinion. It doesn't matter if you go from high school to the NFL; it's still football. Whoever has the ball in their hand, we're going to make plays."

Crompton got very little chance to compete for the starting job in 2006 and 2007 as Cutcliffe worked to repair an Ainge psyche that was nearly destroyed during a disastrous 2005 season. Now, with both Cutcliffe and Ainge moving on, Crompton has a golden opportunity to win the No. 1 job.

"It's a new beginning," he said. "You've got to hit it full-speed ahead. You've got to go with it (new offense), and I think we're going to have fun doing it."

Although he spent 2005 recovering from shoulder surgery and the next two years as a little-used reserve, Crompton has complete faith in his ability to lead the attack. He also has complete faith in Dave Clawson's ability to produce a dynamic offense.

"Like Coach Clawson said, we're going to win a national championship," Crompton said. "I fully expect that and believe that with all my heart."

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