Me and my shadow

Receivers sometimes drop passes thrown over the middle because they "hear footsteps" that indicate a fast-approaching defender.

First-year Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson knows the feeling. He has been hearing footsteps ever since he arrived on campus last January. It's OK, though. The footsteps belong to Vol quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who always seems to be a few steps away and closing fast.

"Jonathan met Dave Clawson at the door, and they've been almost inseparable ever since," head coach Phillip Fulmer notes.

Crompton figures the more time he spends in close proximity to Clawson, the more he'll learn about the intricacies of Clawson's West Coast Offense.

"When Coach Fulmer told me he was thinking about hiring him and told me a little about him, I was ready to get started pretty much," Crompton recalls. "As soon as he got on campus, I was like, 'Hey, coach, what can I start studying? What can you give me?' Stuff like that.

"I guess it was excitement to start learning the offense, get ready to go, things like that."

Based solely on what he'd heard, Crompton fancied the idea of playing for Clawson. Now that he's actually being coached by the new aide, Crompton is a card-carrying member of the Clawson fan club.

"I like everything about him," Crompton says. "How he carries himself. He's a very humble human being, nice to everybody. He's a player's coach who will get you enthusiastic, he'll build you up. He'll tell you what you did wrong but tell you why you did it, so he can teach you."

One thing Clawson won't have to teach Crompton is how to run. The 6-4, 240-pound junior has a lot of fullback in him, having shown a knack for steamrolling cornerbacks.

Given that Crompton is the only quarterback on Tennessee's roster who has thrown a college pass, you wonder: Will he curtail the scrambling this fall?

"You just play football," he says. "You don't change anything. If I've got to get the first down, I'll get the first down. If it's first down and I can get us to second-and-short, then I'll be smart. With 80 plays a game, you've got to be smart how you take hits."

Asked if Clawson shares this philosophy on running quarterbacks, Crompton nodded.

"He's the same way," the quarterback notes. "We've talked about it."

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