The latest to come to camp and jump on board is Bryce Petty, a 6-2, 210-pound quarterback from Midothian, Texas (near Dallas-Fort Worth). Listed No. 29 nationally in Scout.com's latest prospect rankings, he received his first major offer on Tuesday from Tennessee and accepted today after sleeping on the proposition.
"I was talking to Coach (Dave) Clawson and he told me to give him about a week because they needed to sit down and talk about who they liked," Petty told Jeff Howe of Texas Prep Insider when asked about how the offer was extended. "He called me about 9:30 (Tuesday) night and he said that he and Coach (Phillip) Fulmer sat down and talked about who they liked."
Although Petty only had offers from New Mexico and Portland State, he still wanted time before making a decision on the next four or five years of his life.
"I really needed to sit down and think about it because it's a really big decision and that is such a great school and a great program," Petty told Howe. "I called him this afternoon and told him I'm ready to be a Vol. I'm pumped."
Before camping at Tennessee Petty attended camps at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Baylor without receiving an offer. He was camping at Nebraska when the offer from Clawson came through.
Before he got to Knoxville the Vols' interest level was already heightened after an exhaustive film search of the available quarterback prospects in the Class of ‘09 uncovered a talent that stoodout, as an operator who can distribute the ball and stay cool under pressure.
Petty also has good mobility with a personal best of 4.64 in the 40 and consistent clockings in the 4.75 range. But he's not a classic drop back passer who can stretch a defense his arm strength. Former Vol QB A.J. Suggs is a closer match in terms of style than Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Casey Clausen or Eric Ainge. Petty's arm strength probably falls in a range between Suggs and Clausen.
However his intangibles are extremely high particularly in terms of leadership skills, work ethic and competitive mindset. Petty operates a spread attack with a lot of shotgun and empty backfield.
In 10 games as a junior he connected on 164-of-279 passes for 2042 yards and 16 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He also ran the ball 101 times for 73 yards and five touchdowns. His 62 percent completion rate is impressive, but his averages of 7.3 yards per completion and 0.7 yard rushing average prompt questions if not concerns.
Another area to beware of is his relative lack of playing experience with only 17 career starts at the high school level. Compare that to the 40 or more starts many successful high school signal callers have entering their senior seasons. Furthermore, his utter lack of playoff experience means he hasn't been tested against the toughest competition in a survive-and-advance format.
Still he looks to be a fit for Dave Clawson's west coast system and he knows how to make plays. Petty uses his mobility to buy time and shows both touch and accuracy on the move. Besides he's among the three highest rated QB prospects in the Class of 2009 that remain uncommitted.
Whether the Vols take another quarterback in this class, due to the impending loss of Casey Kelly, is a mater of conjecture. They remain a possibility for Josh Nunes of Upland, Calif., who is ranked No. 17 nationally. He is also considering Arizona State, BYU, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Henry County quarterback Marsalis Teague is a player the Vols would like to sign but his chances of playing quarterback at 5-10, 170, don't appear high. However neither are his NFL chances is he wants to stand behind the center.
Making the change to another position at the collegiate level would improve his stock. On the other hand, he might prefer playing quarterback in a spread option offense and make the change later i.e. Antwan Randle El or Hines Ward. For sure he's a prospect who is gaining admirers by the hour and he's one of the top targets on UT's list.