Thinking Man's Taskmaster

In a battle of minds Josh Nunes is armed to the teeth; maybe that's why he smiles every time he comes to the line of scrimmage and sees the defense poised to bring pressure in form of the blitz.

Having only played the game for three years it's hard to believe the Upland, Calif., native and UT commitment has acquired such a grasp of the intricacies of a position widely regarded as the most difficult in all of sports to master.

"I love to beat the rush, checking hot routes to the receivers," he said in an interview with IT on Monday. "Once they start blitzing like that and you burn them a couple of times it definitely slows down the rush a bit."

A brilliant student with a 4.5 GPA Nunes mental dexterity under center is the result of giving up basketball and baseball and devoting himself completely to becoming the best quarterback he could. With only one full season under his belt as starting quarterback at Upland High School. he has managed to not only close the learning curve, he has eclipsed it.

One of the key ingredients in his rapid development from non-player to the nation's No. 16 quarterback prospect is studying former No. 16 for the Volunteers, current Indianapolis quarterback and future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

"I always loved watching Peyton," he said. "He's my favorite player. I like his work ethic, the way he has command of his team, making checks at the line and stuff. He has the mental and physical abilities. I love watching him play."

Speaking of mental abilities, Nunes helps elevate his game by playing another cerebral competition.

"I play chess all the time," he said. "Yeah there are similarities. They throw something at you. You throw something back at them that is counter to it. It's like tampa two throw the check downs. It's good stuff.

Nunes is never not in the game mentally and he closely monitors his teammates to see they are into it too. From the first time he took the field as a starter, midway through his sophomore campaign, he hasn't tried to be anything other than himself.

"I just came out there and was myself," he recalled of the daunting task of leading seniors as a green sophomore. "A lot of times I try to lead by example. I think that speaks bigger than words, your actions. When I had to I was able to take control and really be a leader for the guys I think."

Asked to describe his leadership style Josh Nunes noted his calm demeanor in the midst of the storm.

"I'm more of the calm type," he confirmed. "I try to keep the guys level and stuff. I have the ability to step up and take control if I need to, but I like to set an example for the guys.

"Guys are always looking, especially in a tough situation, to see how you're reacting. I believe that's a big part of the game, keeping your cool."

That's Josh Nunes in a four words: California cool, Tennessee bound.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is short segment from an in-depth feature on UT's QB of the future that will be featured in next month's football issue of Rocky Top News. Get the rest of the story in RTN.

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