Matt Simms couldn't seem to separate himself at quarterback during spring practice, but off-season work may have at least penciled him in at the top of the depth chart.
After a full off season of hard work it seems as though Simms understands the offense a bit more than he did during spring practice.
"I would look at the guys in the huddle and say, ‘Alright, here we go, we have such and such play,' and in my head I was thinking, ‘OK, what do I really have to do here?' " Simms explained.
"I made them believe I knew what I was doing and now I really know what I am doing."
Head Coach Derek Dooley said Simms may have been able to fool his teammates, but they were the only ones cloaked by the junior college transfer.
"He wasn't fooling me," Dooley said. "He was fooling the team, but I knew he had no idea what he was doing."
While he may not have separated himself during spring football, Simms will go into fall camp this week believing that the job will be his come September 4 when Tennessee-Martin comes to Neyland Stadium for the season opener.
"Definitely you have go in with the confidence that you are going to go in and win the job," Simms said. "Every quarterback on our team thinks that."
Dooley says Simms confidence will improve every day simply with the steady flow of preparation that the quarterback has put in throughout the summer.
"I think that his confidence is going to be built every day by the investment he is putting in," Dooley said. "Nobody has put in a better investment to being a good player on our team better than him.
"There is no one player on our team that has put in more time, energy, volunteer work, everything. That is how you develop confidence."
Dooley added that the only thing Simms lacks is playing experience.
"I have no doubt about Matt's physical skills and his commitment," Dooley said. "What more can you ask?"
Simms said that just being a part of the team has improved his game more than anything, and several seniors have made that transition as easy as possible.
"Being more a part of the team has improved everything," Simms said.
"Definitely Gerald (Jones), (Chris) Walker and (Nick) Reveiz too, they kind of took me under their wing," Simms said.
The newcomer at quarterback had to prove his commitment level to the Tennessee veterans in his first off season.
"They told me, ‘Hey, if you want to be the starting quarterback you have to work hard and we have to see it,' " Simms said. "They would know, too, because they are always in the facility working hard."
Simms also received a little advice from a former Tennessee star at the Manning brothers' passing camp last month. What was Peyton Manning's advice?
"Win," Simms said. "That's really all he cares about. He wants us to go out there, play hard, represent the school and win some games."