Crompton 'Tees' off

Tee Martin spent two years squirming on Tennessee's bench behind Peyton Manning, then proved to be a superior college quarterback when he finally got his chance as a junior.

Jonathan Crompton can relate. He has spent two years squirming on the Vol bench behind Erik Ainge. Now, as a junior, he's finally getting his chance to prove himself.

The similarities don't stop there, however. Like the 6-3, 225-pound Martin, the 6-4, 240-pound Crompton is a guy with a powerful frame, a strong arm, good mobility and lots of patience.

"When Peyton decided to stay (for his senior season), Tee, in his graciousness, just backed up again," head coach Phillip Fulmer noted. "He played his role on the team and did an unbelievable job of not being a disruption of any kind and continuing to improve his game. Jonathan's done the same thing. He's played his role as a backup and prepared himself each week to be the best he could be."

There's one more similarity. Like Martin, Crompton will get to run an offense that has been altered to fit his skill set.

"As we did going from Peyton to Tee, we will from Erik to Jonathan," Fulmer noted. "We will do things around what he can do best. We won't ask him to do all the things Erik did ... just as we wouldn't ask Erik to do the things that are Jonathan's strengths."

One of Crompton's strengths is the ability to make plays with his feet. Whereas Ainge was a statue in the pocket, Crompton has the agility (and the inclination) to move around in the pocket and even scramble for positive yardage on occasion.

"He looks good and I'm really excited about what he brings to the table from a toughness standpoint," Fulmer said. "He stands in the pocket like he's supposed to. He moves in the pocket well. He's able to pull it down and make a play.

"We don't want him to be taking on too many linebackers (but) he has that mentality ... to try to run over somebody rather than get on the ground and save himself for the next series or the next play."

After an injury-induced redshirt year in 2005 and precious little game action in 2006 and 2007, Crompton may be a little rusty heading into 2008. Still, his coach believes the young quarterback shed some of that rust with a fine spring and an outstanding offseason.

"Jon had a heck of a summer," Fulmer said. "The thing I like about Jonathan is that he met (new offensive coordinator) Dave Clawson at the door, and they've been almost inseparable ever since.

"B.J. (Coleman) and Nick (Stephens) have worked hard, as well," Fulmer added, referring to the Vols' backup QBs, "but Jon has really worked to master the new offense. I think he's on a really, really good track to do so."

Although Crompton appears to have earned the confidence of his coaches and teammates, the next month will be crucial for him.

"I think he needs a really good camp and some success in the game, and I think this team will totally rally around him because he's shown every example of good leadership you could ask – on the field, off the field, in the classroom," Fulmer said. "He's just really done well."

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