Bad News on Nunes

With Tennessee's starting quarterback struggling with a new offensive system, word out of southern California that UT's designated QB of the future is no longer a firm commitment to the Vols came as a blind-side blow to their recruiting campaign.

Citing distance and airport delays for creating travel hardships for him and his family, Josh Nunes of Upland, Calif., announced through an e-mail to media, he was now a soft commitment to the Vols and will look for a college closer to home, all but officially eliminating Tennessee as a landing sight for his four-star skills.

The statement reads: I have changed my commitment at Tennessee to a soft verbal. "My reason is based on the distance and difficulty getting there from my home. On my first trip, distance and flying posed a problem when we could not get home in the case of a family emergency.

My recent official visit made me realize what I would put my family, grandparents, relatives and friends through in traveling and expense, especially knowing my family would try to attend every game. I did inform the Tennessee coaches of my intentions before this past game and losing had nothing to do with this decision. I am not closing the doors at UT from my side and I still think highly about the program, especially the players, recruits, and coaches. I feel that I do owe UT the time to adjust their recruiting in case things change for me." Ironically Nunes' commitment was one of the real feel good stories of UT's early recruiting blitz. The highest rated uncommitted quarterback in the nation at No. 16 when he committed to Tennessee in June, Nunes had as much upside as anyone in the Class of 2009, having only played two years of football during which he had risen the national rankings like a rocket.

Regarded by some analysts as one of the top five drop-back passers in the country, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound signal caller carries a 4.5 GPA, has a 4.78 time in the 40 and a rocket launcher for a right arm. An outstanding baseball and basketball player he didn't try organized football until he was a sophomore during which he started five games.

Last fall in his only season as a full-time starter Nunes connected on 124-of-216 (57.4 percent) for 2,105 yards, 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He was Co-MVP of the Baseline League. Nunes received over 30 scholarship offers before deciding on Tennessee without visiting. He did make a visit in August and was also in attendance at the Vols opener against UCLA in Los Angeles. He returned for the Florida game and made the decision to reopen the recruiting process after returning home from a trip that was beset by airline delays, according to his father Tim.

Nunes originally committed to Tennessee over offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Stanford. If distance is a factor Florida is even further away. However Stanford meets the locale and academic demands, Oklahoma is one of the country's top programs and playing opportunities abound in Lincoln. He also considered both UCLA and Cal before deciding on UT. There will be shortage of offers for a prospect who will go back on the market as the country's highest ranked uncommitted quarterback.

Meanwhile speculation abounds that another reason Nunes is looking elsewhere is the booing that erupted in Neyland Stadium the last two games. Hearing junior quarterback Jonathan Crompton booed while struggling against Florida did nothing to allay the Nunes' growing concerns over fan negativity.

It certainly posed a sharp contrast to the warm welcome and supportive tone that existed when he committed to the Vols as well as the welcome he received on his subsequent August visit. A southern California chapter of Big Orange fans attended Nunes season opener and he had been besieged with congratulatory e-mails from Tennessee fans following his commitment to the Vols.

Another negative from the likely loss of Nunes is the role he had taken on as a recruiter for the Vols. Representing the offensive future he was voluntarily making calls to receivers and other offensive prospects UT was actively recruiting.

Nunes is the second four-star quarterback prospect the Vols have lost in three months along with 2008 signee Casey Kelly of Sarasota, Fla., who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2008 Major League Baseball annual draft.

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