Nick Stephens, the only quarterback on Tennessee’s roster with actual D-1 game experience, announced he was leaving the program in the wake of his demotion.
… The loss of first-team reps set the stage for Stephens’ exit.
“It made me sick,” Stephens said. “It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to cope with in a long time, especially since I felt like up until that scrimmage I was having a really good spring.”
And before you accuse me of exaggeration with my header, check out the head coach’s biggest regret about Stephens’ decision.
Dooley asked Stephens to delay his decision until at least after next Saturday’s Orange and White game, but the program’s only experienced quarterback decided to go ahead and leave…
“I told Nick that I wish he’d have played it out and competed through the end of spring, and then based on what our analysis was at the end of spring, I could certainly understand how he felt,” Dooley said…
Translation: son, we don’t think you’re good enough to contribute in the fall, but we need you as cannon fodder for the spring game. That’s not exactly your standard vote of confidence in quarterback depth. Anyway, my header’s mild in comparison with this one. Not to say that Pennington doesn’t have a point when you look at his analysis:
… Stephens is the third experienced Vol to quit the team in the past month. UT’s only returning offensive line starter, Aaron Douglas, plans to transfer. And the Vols’ leading returning rusher, Bryce Brown, is away from spring practice and contemplating a transfer of his own.
Tennessee’s roster was less-talented at the end of the Phillip Fulmer regime than at any point since the late 1980s. When Lane Kiffin arrived last year, he ran off a number of players — especially along the offensive line. Therefore, Dooley inherited a dangerously thin roster that included:
* No returning starter at quarterback
* No returning starter on the offensive line
* No returning starter at tailback
* And no Eric Berry or Dan Williams, last season’s two best players
In addition to the thin roster (that’s getting thinner by the day), Tennessee will face Oregon, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama in its first seven games.