KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Over the past decade, Tennessee recruiting has been a mixed bag in success with quarterbacks.
Josh Dobbs emerged as a star for the Vols, but just as often quarterbacks who had little success or opportunity at Tennessee ultimately shined elsewhere.
SEC Country examined Tennessee’s quarterback signees since 2006 to determine a hit rate. Here are the results.
2006: Nick Stephens
Stevens was a 3-star prospect as a pro-style QB from Texas. He started 6 straight games for Tennessee in the middle of Phillip Fulmer’s final season at the helm in 2008. He went 2-4 as a starter, completing 48.5 percent of his passes for 840 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He saw limited action in 2009 under Lane Kiffin before transferring home to Texas to play for Division II Tarleton State.
2007: B.J. Coleman
A 3-star prospect from McCallie School in Chattanooga, Coleman hardly saw the field as a redshirt freshman in 2008, attempting 8 passes in 3 games. He transferred in 2009, starring for his towntown Chattanooga Moccasins for three seasons. He was selected in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers but never played.
2008: Casey Kelly
A 2-sport star from Sarasota, Fla., Kelly committed to Tennessee but never played for the Vols. He was the 30th overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft by the Boston Red Sox. A pitcher, to date he played parts of three seasons with the Padres and Braves.
2009: Did not sign a quarterback
Bryce Petty, who ended up starring at Baylor; and Tajh Boyd, who wound up shining at Clemson, were committed to Fulmer before Kiffin became coach. Both remained Vols commits initially under Kiffin, but once Kiffin made it clear neither quarterback was wanted, they went elsewhere. Oops!
2010: Tyler Bray, Matt Simms, Nash Nance
Derek Dooley signed 3 quarterbacks in his first year at Tennessee. Bray was a 4-star prospect with a golden arm. Simms was a hot transfer from Louisville. Nance was connected to 5-star receiver Da’Rick Rogers.
Nance never played for the Vols, but he had a prolific career for Division III Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
Simms started the first eight games of the 2010 season before losing his job to Bray. He saw time in 2011 when Bray dealt with a broken thumb.
Bray was strong-armed kid from California, and although he put up monster numbers with the Vols, he frustrated fans with his inconsistencies and lack of leadership.
In three seasons, Bray threw for 7,444 yards and 69 touchdowns (fourth-most in school-history). His 34 touchdowns in 2012 ranked No. 2 in the SEC behind Georgia’s Aaron Murray (36).
2011: Justin Worley
A former high school teammate of Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, Worley played four seasons with the Vols. He was a backup in 2011 and 2012 before starting 7 games in 2013, most notably leading Tennessee to its first win over a ranked team in years — an upset against No. 4 South Carolina. Worley had season-ending injuries in both 2013, a thumb, and 2014, a shoulder, and giving way to Josh Dobbs each time.
2012: Nathan Peterman
Peterman played in 11 games for Tennessee, starting twice, including a disastrous debut at Florida. He later transferred to Pitt, reuniting with former Vols offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Peterman had a nice two-year stint with the Panthers, throwing for 47 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions.
2013: Josh Dobbs, Riley Ferguson
Dobbs developed into the star of Butch Jones’ inaugural class. He replaced Worley twice after injuries, becoming the full-time starter in 2015. He led the Vols to an 18-8 mark the past two years, engineering a record-breaking offense. Dobbs led the SEC with 40 total touchdowns as a senior and was a decorated and model student-athlete.
Ferguson was highly touted prospect, but he left Tennessee after a redshirt season. He wounded up at Memphis, leading the Tigers to an 8-5 record with 32 touchdowns.
2014: Did not sign a quarterback
2015: Sheriron Jones, Quinten Dormady
Jones briefly transferred to Colorado last January before having a change of heart and returning to the Vols. Dormady served as Dobbs’ backup in 2016, completing 11-of-17 passes for 148 yards in limited action. He will battle with Jarrett Guarantano for the 2017 job.
2016: Jarrett Guarantano
A 4-star prospect from New Jersey, Guarantano was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 class. He redshirted this fall and will compete for the starting job in the spring.
The Hit Rate: 33 percent
Calculations didn’t include Kelly since he never made it to campus. Jones, Dormady and Gaurantano also weren’t counted, as their careers are largely unknown for now. So Dobbs, Bray and Worley were hits — and I’m not even confident in that.
In fairness, it’s hard to nail down a true success rate for Tennessee’s quarterbacks.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s clear that Fulmer, Dooley and Jones all had solid evaluations with guys like Coleman, Bray, Dobbs, Peterman and Ferguson. Yet just Bray and Dobbs contributed to the Volunteers. College programs deal with quarterbacks leaving for a new opportunity if they don’t win the starting job, and the Vols have been hit hard by this trend.
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