QB Saga Ends Quietly

Two days before Tennessee lost to Auburn it lost to Stanford as former UT commitment Josh Nunes pledged for Jim Harbaugh's Cardinal up the coast from his southern California home in Upland.

It brings a story that started with such promise to an abrupt end. Ultimately it costs the Vols a quarterback with unlimited potential, a student with a 4.5 GPA and the football program an excellent ambassador as well as a proven leader.

What made the story so unique were the elements it brought together and the evidence it offered the Vols were a viable recruiting force on the national level. Rated the nation's No. 16 QB by Scout.com, Josh Nunes was the highest rated uncommitted signal caller from the Class of 2009. He was being strongly pursued by Florida as well as UCLA, Cal, Oklahoma, Nebraska as well as another 30 or so other national football powers and academic stalwarts.

That he chose Tennessee was testament to the job Dave Clawson did recruiting him, selling him on the offense and program. It was also a result of the Vols national reputation, unsurpassed facilities and outstanding fan support as well as Phillip Fulmer's longevity and Peyton Manning's legacy.

After conducting exhaustive research on Tennessee Nunes was so sold he committed to the Volunteers without visiting the campus. He was an immediate hit with Big Orange fans which included a confederation in southern California that came out to his first high school game of the season to show their support and appreciation for his choice.

When Nunes did get around to visiting Tennessee for the first time it matched everything he had seen on screens and in his dreams. It was big-time college football at the most elite level, the most picturesque setting and in the most predatory conference.

"Overall I came in having real high standards after talking to people about what to expect at UT," he told Inside Tennessee after that first visit. "And to tell you the truth the whole thing exceeded my expectations. It was a real pleasant trip."

Nunes was accompanied on the trip by his parents and younger brother, anticipated no problems in adjusting to a different climate, culture or lifestyle.

"I really enjoyed talking to the people I met," he said. "Southern hospitality really showed true. I think I could fit in really well."

One of the things that convinced Nunes Tennessee was a good fit for him was the time he spent around UT's players. One he made an immediate connection with was a player much like himself — a 6-foot-4, athlete who is an excellent student, a hard worker, a highly competitive, physically tough young man. Like Nunes he had chosen Tennessee over numerous offers.

"It was incredible being around the coaches and the players," Nunes said. "I got to spend time talking to Coach Clawson a lot and he's always been a great guy. I really hit it off well with him and Coach Fulmer. I like them both and respect them a lot. And for players I got to hang with Jonathan Crompton quite a bit during the quarterback meetings and stuff. I really like him. He's a cool guy."

Nunes learned Crompton, who's had three surgeries since signing with UT in 2005, fell for Tennessee when he made an unofficial visit on his own with his father as a sophomore in 2003. It's the type of testimony Crompton has routinely given on behalf of Tennessee ever since he was a senior commitment, another trait Nunes shared with his bi-coastal counterpart. He liked Crompton's strong identification with team, his dedication to training and his competitive spirit. He looked forward to being Crompton's teammate in 2009.

However on subsequent visits for Tennessee home games against UAB and Florida, Nunes experienced something that was totally unexpected as he heard many of the very fans Crompton had extolled as ‘great fans' lustily booing his play on the field.

The day after that disappointing loss to Florida, Josh Nunes renounced his commitment in a diplomatic manner and complimented UT in the process. No doubt some of the cynics will rail good riddance, or more vicious invectives in typical knee-jerk reaction.

From this writer's viewpoint Nunes is an excellent quarterback and an even better young man. Typically he's not the type who would walk out on a commitment, regardless of travel concerns, but he's also smart enough to know loyalty is a two-way street.

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