Thursdays aren't good days for good news coming out of the University of Tennessee.
Three Thursdays this spring have brought bad news of top players leaving the Vols program.
That trend continued here today when first year head coach Derek Dooley announced after today's practice that senior quarterback Nick Stephens was no longer a part of the UT football program. Bryce Brown and Aaron Douglas also have left the team.
"Nick came by my office today and has decided to no longer be a part of our football team," Dooley told the media. "I was surprised that he came in and made the decision before the spring was over. It is also natural, he is a fifth year player that has never played. I told him that there was a chance that he wouldn't be the guy, he doesn't want to risk that, he wants to play somewhere and be the guy his senior season."
Dooley and the staff apparently made a decision after last Thursday's scrimmage to shuffle the quarterback reps.
Dooley was asked by a member of the media if he had considered this to be a possibility when he decided to shake up the quarterback rotation.
"I didn't expect it this soon," Dooley said. "I would have thought he would have waited until the spring was over."
InsideTennessee.com was able to reach Stephens on Thursday afternoon to get his side of the meeting with Dooley and his reason for leaving.
"Everything happened after the scrimmage," Stephens told InsideTennessee.com. "It was very abrupt how they told us that they were going to switch things up. This isn't a knock on anyone."
Stephens decided to give the new changes a chance, but standing around watching two other quarterbacks play in front of him was more than he could handle.
"I couldn't stand there and watch it anymore," Stephens said. "It took a toll on me mentally and physically. To know that I wasn't going to be given an opportunity to play my senior season, it was very obvious."
According to Stephens, deciding to leave Rocky Top and the University of Tennessee was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
"I had to make the decision that was in my best interest," Stephens said. "It was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I love the University of Tennessee with all my heart. It's about the people here, it's about the relationships I have made. It's like leaving my family."
According to Stephens, he plans on transferring to a Division II School to play his senior season.
"I'm just the type of player that can't risk not being able to play somewhere my senior year," Stephens said. "I have a few schools I'm looking at; it will have to be the right situation for me."