Crompton: Practicing like he's in last place
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin said on Thursday's SEC spring football teleconference that "Jonathan Crompton seems to be in the lead (at quarterback)." Given the recent history of the position, that's called progress.
Last spring ended without a hint of a quarterback debate. Former coach Phillip Fulmer apparently believed Crompton could be an effective quarterback.
Crompton needed less than half a season to prove him wrong.
"Seems to be in the lead" is as certain as you get this spring. After Thursday's practice, Kiffin emphasized that any one of the three quarterbacks - Crompton, Nick Stephens or B. J. Coleman - could win the starting job.
Nonetheless, the implication that Crompton is in the lead is a chilling prospect to some fans. There's just too much history.
Last season's offense was so faulty in so many areas, it was difficult to assign blame. But everyone can agree that Crompton was often near the scene when some of UT's worst offensive mishaps occurred. His problems included ball security, decision-making and accuracy.
Some of the same shortcomings have been evident this spring. However, Crompton's coaches seem pleased with how quickly Crompton has grasped a new offensive system - one which might be more compatible with his skills.
Maintaining his edge at the position will be a challenge. Stephens missed the first part of spring with a broken wrist. Understandably, he hasn't thrown the ball with as much zip as he did last fall.
That could change in August. And so could the starting quarterback.
Tebow Tinkering: Tim Tebow has won the Heisman Trophy and helped the Gators win two national titles, but coach Urban Meyer says the Florida quarterback has improved this spring. That's just what the rest of the SEC didn't want to hear.
"Fundamentally, he has improved," Meyer said. "We've tightened up his throwing motion a little bit better. Also, schematically, there are things we are working on."
Meyer said he wants the Gators to have an I-formation package, which means Tebow sometimes will operate under center. He has worked from the shotgun almost exclusively throughout his high school and college career.
Other coaches might be hesitant to change a quarterback who has had so much success. Not Meyer. He's always coming up with new wrinkles for an offense that keeps getting better.
Cox In Command: Georgia coach Mark Richt seems comfortable with his quarterback transition from potential No. 1 draft pick Matthew Stafford to Joe Cox. But Georgia fans who remember the last transition might not feel as confident.
The Bulldogs went through several quarterbacks, including fifth-year senior Joe Tereshinksi, in the first half of the season before settling on Stafford, a true freshman. In a favorable scenario for Georgia's offense, Joe Cox won't be the next Joe Tereshinski.
"He understands our offense extremely well," Richt said of Cox, a fifth-year senior. "He was a fantastic No. 2 quarterback in that he always prepared like he was the No. 1 quarterback."
Georgia doesn't have a true freshman quarterback as heralded as Stafford was, but both Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger attended the Elite 11 quarterbacks camp last summer.
Elite QB Not Needed: Here's Alabama coach Nick Saban talking about new quarterback Greg McElroy: "He's smart, makes good decisions and has a good understanding of our offense."
That's more than an assessment of McElroy. That's a profile of a preferred Saban quarterback.
He doesn't need a future NFL star at quarterback. He needs a guy who won't get him beat.
He will count on his defense to do the rest.
Wildcat Package: Alcoa's Randall Cobb will be used primarily at wide receiver, with occasional appearances at quarterback in the "Wildcat package" next season, according to Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.
"Right now, (Mike) Hartline is the guy," Brooks said of his quarterback situation. "He fits the system best. His production will be a lot better with Cobb at receiver, because (Cobb) is an amazing talent."
Hartline, who struggled in 2008 in his first season as a starter, might not want to get too comfortable. Brooks raves about incoming freshman quarterbacks, Parade All-American Morgan Newton of Carmel, Ind., and Ryan Mossakowski of Frisco, Texas. Both are 6-foot-4 with strong arms.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.