Vol QBs coming along

Tennessee has an ideal situation at quarterback in terms of classification.

There's one senior (Nick Stephens), one junior (Matt Simms), one sophomore (Nick Lamaison) and one freshman (Tyler Bray).

The quarterback situation isn't quite so ideal in terms of experience, however. After starting six games in 2008, Stephens threw just 13 passes in three games of mop-up duty last fall. Simms was playing junior college ball last fall, Lamaison was redshirting last fall and Bray was playing high school ball last fall.

Despite the lack of seasoning among the QBs, Vol teammates like the progress they're seeing at the position this spring.

"We're still working on a lot of timing routes and stuff like that," sophomore receiver Marsalis Teague said following Saturday's practice. "Today, as a whole, I feel like we got a whole lot better."

Asked which QBs impress him most, Teague diplomatically answered: "To me, they're all doing a really good job. Tyler's young - Matt and both Nicks have more experience than him - but they're all doing a great job."

Senior center Victor Thomas is equally excited about the play of the Vols' QB brigade.

"The quarterbacks are looking great," he said. "We've just got to protect 'em and give 'em time. What's impressed me about 'em is their demeanor and work ethic, the way they approach practice every day."

Sophomore safety Darren Myles believes Stephens and Simms are ahead of the pack at this point, noting that "Nick's putting more touch on his long ball" before adding: "They're all getting better. They started off rusty but they're getting smoother."

Prentiss Waggner, another sophomore safety, sees considerable progress - mentally, as well as physically - from Tennessee's signal-callers.

"The quarterbacks are looking good," he said. "It looks like they're picking up the system pretty good, pretty quickly. Every day I see them walking to class, they've got their book sack and their playbook with them. It looks like they're getting double duty."

Asked in what area the QBs are progressing most noticeably, Waggner replied: "I see them making the most progress in their reads. I think they're going to be a lot better with their reads this year, and I think they're going to take control of this offense this year."

Head coach Derek Dooley hopes at least one of his quarterbacks takes control this year. He figures the return of senior wideouts Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore will make life a little easier for the QB - whoever it might be.

"Definitely," Dooley said. "Gerald and Denarius, there's not a lot of mistakes out there with those guys. What you're seeing at quarterback (inexperience) is what you're going to get. That's how it's going to be."


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