Crompton 'charged' up

Don't be surprised if Jonathan Crompton enters politics someday. He seems destined to follow the course set by Heath Shuler.

Shuler grew up in Bryson City, North Carolina. Crompton grew up a few miles away in Waynesville. Shuler was ranked among America's top five quarterback prospects as a high school senior; Crompton achieved the same distinction 14 years later. Shuler played college ball at Tennessee; so did Crompton.

Shuler was drafted in 1994 by the Washington Redskins, coached by Norv Turner. Crompton was drafted last weekend by the San Diego Chargers, who just happen to be coached by ... you guessed it ... Norv Turner.

That's where the similarities could end, however. Shuler entered the NFL under tremendous pressure. As the third player taken in the 1994 Draft, he was expected to start for the hapless Redskins from Day 1. Conversely, Crompton was taken in Round 5 last weekend and goes to mini-camp as the Chargers' No. 3 QB behind starter Philip Rivers and veteran backup Billy Volek.

Considering the enormous pressure Crompton faced during his UT career, the low-key role of being a third-string quarterback in San Diego should be a relaxing change of pace.

Crompton certainly is no threat to displace Rivers, a seven-year veteran who is hitting his prime. Rivers completed 65.2 percent of his passes last season for 4,254 yards and 28 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. His passer-efficiency rating of 104.4 ranked third among the 32 NFL quarterbacks, trailing only New Orleans' Drew Brees and Minnesota's Bret Favre.

Volek, who turned 34 this week, probably has a death grip on the No. 2 job in San Diego. The 11-year veteran completed 20 of 31 passes (64.5 percent) last season for 231 yards with 1 TD and 1 pick. Moreover, Volek started 10 games during his days with the Tennessee Titans, which makes him the ideal insurance policy in case Rivers suffers a major injury.

Crompton's status as the No. 3 QB is unchallenged at present. After grooming Charlie Whitehurst for four years, the Chargers traded him to Seattle on March 17 for a third-round draft pick.

Crompton was the only quarterback San Diego drafted last weekend, and there were none among the team's first 20 rookie free-agent signees. That leaves just three on the Chargers' current roster - Rivers, Volek and Crompton.

The ex-Vol's big senior season (2,800 passing yards, 27 TDs, 13 interceptions) clearly impressed San Diego officials. At the time they drafted Crompton, only six quarterback prospects had been taken - Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Florida's Tim Tebow in Round 1, Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen in Round 2, Texas' Colt McCoy in Round 3, Northwestern's Mike Kafka in Round 4 and Fordham's John Skelton earlier in Round 5. Appalachian State's 5-foot-11 Armanti Edwards, though chosen in Round 3, projects to be a receiver in the NFL.

The fact Crompton ran a pro-style offense at UT, whereas most of the other drafted QBs ran spread attacks, boosted his draft stock considerably. It should boost his chances of making San Diego's roster this season, as well.


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