Quality QB play

Tennessee has managed to maintain a consistently high level of quarterback play during the Phillip Fulmer era, which is why two quality QB prospects committed to the Vols in the past week.

Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.) went public for UT on Tuesday, one week after Bryce Petty (Midlothian, Texas) cast his lot with the Vols. Odds are, one of the two will enjoy a fine career in Big Orange Country. That's based on the success enjoyed by their Vol predecessors.

Here's a recap of Fulmer's previous QB signees.

1993: Mike Grein (Houston, Texas). This BlueChip All-American was a victim of poor timing. Stuck behind Heath Shuler and then Peyton Manning, there was nowhere to go but elsewhere, so he wisely transferred.

1994: Peyton Manning (New Orleans) and Branndon Stewart (Stephenville, Texas). Manning, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, wound up being UT's starting quarterback for 3½ seasons. He rewrote the Vol record book and three times finished among the top 10 vote-getters in the Heisman balloting. Stewart, a BlueChip All-American in high school, wound up transferring to Texas A&M.

1995: Jeremy Bates (Sevierville). No one else was willing to be stuck behind Manning, so the Vols signed the 5-foot-10 Bates as QB insurance. Basically a stop-gap measure, he transferred after one season. Jeremaine Copeland (Harriman) was in the same signing class but he was not a true QB. In fact, he was tabbed BlueChip All-America as an athlete rather than a quarterback. After splitting one season between QB and receiver, Copeland shifted full-time to receiver, where he enjoyed a distinguished career.

1996: Tee Martin (Mobile, Ala.). A Parade All-American, he spent two years watching Manning, then led Tennessee to a 13-0 record and national title in his first year as the starting QB. He was 22-3 in two years as the starter.

1997: Burney Veazey (Southaven, Miss.). An option QB from a small school, his greatest prep honor was being ranked among his state's top 25 prospects by The Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Like Copeland, he wound up moving to wide receiver.

1998: Joey Mathews (Sevierville). Tabbed All-America by the National Recruiting Advisor, he started the 2000 opener behind center but lost the job and never regained it.

1999: A.J. Suggs (Powder Springs, Ga.). A SuperPrep All-American, he started four games in 2000, losing the top job after going 1-3. He transferred to Georgia Tech following the season. NOTE: Heralded QB prospect Chris Simms committed to UT for the '99 signing class but reneged and signed with the University of Texas.

2000: Casey Clausen (Northridge, Calif.) and John Rattay (Phoenix). Clausen was rated No. 3 and Rattay No. 5 among prep QB prospects by ESPN. Both enrolled early but Clausen was so clearly superior in spring practice that Rattay transferred before preseason drills began. Clausen went on to start for 3½ seasons. He ranks second to Manning in virtually every Vol passing category.

2001: C.J. Fayton (Virginia Beach). A SuperPrep All-American, Fayton quickly switched from quarterback to receiver, where he proved to be a capable pass catcher.

2002: James Banks (Indianapolis). A concensus All-American in high school, he won his only career start for UT – at Mississippi State in '02 while Clausen was injured – but eventually moved to receiver. He led the Vols in receptions as a sophomore in 2003 but was dismissed from the program a year later.

2003: Bo Hardegree (Jackson). An Associated Press all-state pick as a senior, he saw only mop-up duty at QB, then finished his career as a member of the Vol tennis team.

2004: Erik Ainge (Hillsboro, Ore.) and Brent Schaeffer (Deerfield Beach, Fla.). Schaeffer was ranked No. 14 nationally and Ainge No. 28 among QB prospects by Insiders.com (now Scout.com) and both were PrepStar All-Americans. Schaeffer started the Vols' 2004 opener but eventually lost the job and transferred to Ole Miss. Ainge wound up starting for most of his four years on campus.

2005: Jonathan Crompton (Waynesboro, N.C.). A Parade and U.S. Army All-American, he will get his big chance in 2008 after a redshirt year and two seasons spent waiting his turn behind Ainge.

2006: Nick Stephens (Flower Mound, Texas). A second-team all-region pick in high school, Stephens is battling for the No. 2 spot behind Crompton heading into '08.

2007: B. J. Coleman (Chattanooga). Tabbed all-region by PrepStar, he played in the East Meets West All-America Game as a high school senior. He is currently battling Stephens for the backup job behind Crompton.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories