Stephens casts off concerns

Vols' QB eager for fall after wrist surgery

When the cast came off his right wrist, Nick Stephens thought it would be game on in the battle to become Tennessee's starting quarterback.

But when Stephens returned to practice on March 24 for UT's fourth of 15 spring practices and scrimmages, the frustrations began to mount.

"I thought when I get through these first couple weeks, I'll be ready to go," Stephens said. "But when you take a cast off, you're not just going to pick up a ball and start throwing it like you wanted to."

At first, Stephens was limited to short throws. Then he took snaps from center about a week later. And even when he started making downfield throws in practice, his accuracy wasn't exactly up to par.

He participated on a limited basis in only two scrimmages this spring, and completed 11 of 21 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's Orange and White Game.

Stephens had bigger designs, though, for his first spring practice with UT's new coaching staff.

"That was the most frustrating thing," he said. "I got my cast cut off, and picked up the ball. It was kind of a downer, because I knew I couldn't grip it like I wanted to.

"But things happen for a reason. Obviously I wanted to make a good impression on them from day one, but that didn't happen. You've just got to take what you get and get ready for fall."

Like the rest of his teammates, Stephens will participate in UT's offseason program.

He'll also try to throw with receivers as much as possible and then help organize seven-on-seven workouts with his teammates.

Stephens said the worst of his wrist injury is behind him, too.

"I'm fine right now," he said. "The only thing that hurts is when I shake someone's hand.

"Taking the snap, throwing the ball is fine. I'll just get the last little bit of whatever's wrong gone in the next couple weeks and be 100 percent."

This week, UT coach Lane Kiffin said coaches would break down film of all three quarterbacks to continue the evaluation process.

Senior Jonathan Crompton left spring practice with a slight edge over sophomore B.J. Coleman and Stephens, but Stephens believes the competition will remain open this fall.

"I hope it is," he said. "They say the best player's going to play, so we'll all get our opportunity. I'm hoping that it's an open competition. It should be. Coach said it has been, so I think it is."

That's a difference from last year.

Despite pushing Crompton in spring practice and fall camp, Stephens saw only limited snaps until taking over the starting job against Northern Illinois on Oct. 4.

Asked if he thought the quarterback competition last spring was wide open, Stephens said "No. No, I didn't. I'm not go into detail much with that, but I didn't feel like it was."

Despite his struggles at times - most notably a pair of interceptions in a 13-7 loss to Wyoming - Stephens led the Vols with a quarterback rating of 108.3 last fall and posted a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Crompton.

Heading into the offseason, Stephens can't help but look forward to fall camp - and a healthy wrist.

"I'm looking forward to that the most," Stephens said. "Getting a chance to compete from day one and not having to fall behind from a reps standpoint. Mentally, I'm fine. Fall camp is something we're all looking forward to. Me personally, too."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 134

Vol_FAN_atic writes:

Number......

belayvol writes:

Now let's get healthy and start flinging that ball. May the best man win.

carsontwin writes:

BJ Coleman will be the man. He is a leader and it shows by his voice and poise he has. He knows the game of football. Write it down ...BJ Coleman the starter. He sees the whole field and Crompton dont. Coleman has the smarts and Crompton dont. Cutcliff knows how to pick QB's. Go Vols!!!

TommyJack writes:

Pulling for ABC.

Slystone writes:

So tell us again how did he hurt his wrist?

tennesseebee writes:

Hey, Nick, I hear Percy Harvin has a sure fire remedy to return you to your former glory following surgery. Dig this, http://www.theledger.com/article/2009...

soccervol writes:

Stephens will be and needs to be our starter...

Voluvr writes:

I wish the best for all these competitors. I also wish for Jake Heaps and Andrew Hendrix. Stomp Florida.

Couchdummy writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Pulling for ABC.

A Better Crompton?

UTROX writes:

Get em in the fall!!! I would like to see all the QBs light it up this fall, and especially when the season starts. I have no hard feelings against anyone (except maybe Clawson, but that is solved). Keep up the good work coaches, competition will find us the best for the year!!!

atomicvet62 writes:

Can anyone tell me the dates and cities that the Big Orange will be at this spring?
Thanks

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to carsontwin:

BJ Coleman will be the man. He is a leader and it shows by his voice and poise he has. He knows the game of football. Write it down ...BJ Coleman the starter. He sees the whole field and Crompton dont. Coleman has the smarts and Crompton dont. Cutcliff knows how to pick QB's. Go Vols!!!

will you still say that when your pick is not the one?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to soccervol:

Stephens will be and needs to be our starter...

Tell the truth, cuzin!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I will give credit to the Chattanooga area Vol fans.

They back their man. Coleman.

Who knows?

From a geezer's point of view, Nick S is the best available.

Just win!

carsontwin writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

will you still say that when your pick is not the one?

yea i still know who i want to be starting. I believe in Cutcliff and what QB he hand picks. He put great QB's in the NFL. He is a GURU. Coleman has the smarts and the ability to make it. We just need a QB to make plays and dont turn the ball over.

Vol_FAN_atic writes:

“I got a chance to sit down and visit with Coach Lane Kiffin a lot,” Hendrix said. “I really like him a lot, I know he gets a bad rap on ESPN but it’s definitely not deserved. If you meet him you realize that’s

Looks like kids across the nation are paying attention to Tennessee, thanks to ESPN and Kiffin's controversy. If it works use it. I wonder how many others are looking in??

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

Nick get healthy, win the job and lead the Vols- You have a better release, faster release and better reads...and Vol Fans love your long ball..- I still like the sound Stephens to Moore for another 50 yd TD... Remember CLK wants to be a national recruiter and 17 former Texas HS QB's started @ D1 ball in 2008- Not a texan, but they do have some pretty good football... SEC fans should be proud that an SEC QB (Stafford- UGA from texas) will be the #1 pick and now Alabama has a kid from South Lake Carroll (same school Chase Daniels played at) his name is Greg McElroy who Nick and the Vols will get to beat in October @ Bama.--oh yes Eric Berry takes two of those to the house that night...Nick Saban, never liked that guy....

PS: the Texas QB Fulmer recruited that CLK pulled the offer back was a stretch...

VAvolfanRON writes:

I have an idea.....don't shake anyones hand!!!...j/k.

I'm sure nick will come out firing....competing just as hard

VAvolfanRON writes:

chattanooga fans do support their players....

and C.J. Fleming is better than Eric Berry!!!!!.....lmao...

ok..ok.....

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to carsontwin:

yea i still know who i want to be starting. I believe in Cutcliff and what QB he hand picks. He put great QB's in the NFL. He is a GURU. Coleman has the smarts and the ability to make it. We just need a QB to make plays and dont turn the ball over.

You are right.We do need a qb that is smart and dosen't turn the ball over.I don't care if the water boy is the qb if he can help us win.I am going to trust the coaching staff to make the right decision.If they want to win,and I believe they do,they will put the better player on the field reguardless of what we think.I like coleman and Stevens at this point.Crompton hasen't proved anything to the masses to this point.If the coaches think he should start,I will not complain.They see them daily.We see them briefly.Most of the time,the coaches know more than I.If your man is not the one,do not call the coaches names.They do know their personell better than we.

VAvolfanRON writes:

wow.....now this is how a board should be....vol fans discussing their team and each other opinions...w/o the .....ahem....i wont say it

Volsfanstuckintx writes:

in response to QB_10:

Nick get healthy, win the job and lead the Vols- You have a better release, faster release and better reads...and Vol Fans love your long ball..- I still like the sound Stephens to Moore for another 50 yd TD... Remember CLK wants to be a national recruiter and 17 former Texas HS QB's started @ D1 ball in 2008- Not a texan, but they do have some pretty good football... SEC fans should be proud that an SEC QB (Stafford- UGA from texas) will be the #1 pick and now Alabama has a kid from South Lake Carroll (same school Chase Daniels played at) his name is Greg McElroy who Nick and the Vols will get to beat in October @ Bama.--oh yes Eric Berry takes two of those to the house that night...Nick Saban, never liked that guy....

PS: the Texas QB Fulmer recruited that CLK pulled the offer back was a stretch...

They guy that CLK pulled the offer on was horrible, trust me. My former high school played his team every year and I have seen him play multiple times.

old_number1 writes:

in response to Vol_FAN_atic:

“I got a chance to sit down and visit with Coach Lane Kiffin a lot,” Hendrix said. “I really like him a lot, I know he gets a bad rap on ESPN but it’s definitely not deserved. If you meet him you realize that’s

Looks like kids across the nation are paying attention to Tennessee, thanks to ESPN and Kiffin's controversy. If it works use it. I wonder how many others are looking in??

Here's the deal. Any of these QBs will have the same inpact. We all have our favorite. But overall, there is not one that is way ahead of the others. This will also happpen with Rozier. The D will lead us, if the O don't kill us! It won't matter who the QB is, the ground game and the D are the ticket!

1manningfan writes:

in response to carsontwin:

BJ Coleman will be the man. He is a leader and it shows by his voice and poise he has. He knows the game of football. Write it down ...BJ Coleman the starter. He sees the whole field and Crompton dont. Coleman has the smarts and Crompton dont. Cutcliff knows how to pick QB's. Go Vols!!!

100% agree dude!

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to old_number1:

Here's the deal. Any of these QBs will have the same inpact. We all have our favorite. But overall, there is not one that is way ahead of the others. This will also happpen with Rozier. The D will lead us, if the O don't kill us! It won't matter who the QB is, the ground game and the D are the ticket!

man, you are rightt....i guess we are just wanting/wishing one of these guys would pull away and take charge.....

faith in Kiffen, and the assist coaches......

at this point we just need a GOOD QB....few mistakes and ball control

abnerPeabody writes:

spell checkers,sorry for my spelling error.I knew better.some of you never screw up. I should have listened to my departed pappy.He sais son,always carry a handkerchief and always get on top.That way you can keep your nose clean and you'll never screw up.

VAvolfanRON writes:

correct me if i'm wrong......but i think i read where Coleman outplayed J. Clausen in the UnderArmor game...(if that's any consolation)...

carsontwin writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

You are right.We do need a qb that is smart and dosen't turn the ball over.I don't care if the water boy is the qb if he can help us win.I am going to trust the coaching staff to make the right decision.If they want to win,and I believe they do,they will put the better player on the field reguardless of what we think.I like coleman and Stevens at this point.Crompton hasen't proved anything to the masses to this point.If the coaches think he should start,I will not complain.They see them daily.We see them briefly.Most of the time,the coaches know more than I.If your man is not the one,do not call the coaches names.They do know their personell better than we.

i agree with you. I trust our coaches to make the right decision. They are there to see them 24/7 on the field at practice. Kiffin knows what he is doing and i dont doubt him one bit. I just want to win and win alot! Go Vols!

TommyJack writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

A Better Crompton?

Anybody But Crompton

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

spell checkers,sorry for my spelling error.I knew better.some of you never screw up. I should have listened to my departed pappy.He sais son,always carry a handkerchief and always get on top.That way you can keep your nose clean and you'll never screw up.

its says and not sais!!!!!!!!!

touche my friend....i think you got me two weeks ago!!!!!.....lol

carsontwin writes:

in response to 1manningfan:

100% agree dude!

man, i just love his positive attitude. He wants to be the best out there and thats all there is too it.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

its says and not sais!!!!!!!!!

touche my friend....i think you got me two weeks ago!!!!!.....lol

the s and the d are too close on the key board.I have a thick finger.

DennisVols writes:

After reading an article this morning about Foster and what was going on with this team as the season progressed or digressed as it was it should not surprise anyone how any of the player performed last year.
The locker room was in shatters concerning the players. They began to blame one another for the problems, pointing fingers, which Fulmer stated on several occasions that it wasn't happening.
The coaching staff could not or would not make a decision as to who was going to be the QB. This made each one of them spend more time looking over their shoulder than looking down field. No one can perform up to their talent level if they feel like one mistake and I'm done.
I don't believe we ever got to truly see what any of the 3 could do last year. If the coaching staff can't make a decision concerning the offensive system, how can you expect the players to be able to make one?
I hate it that Nick broke his wrist going into spring. I thought last year he was able to move out of the pocket better and was the better passer. The system all 3 played in last year was messed up (being nice there) and it is now obvious the coaching staff had lost complete control of the locker room which destroyed the confidence of the whole team. “You are only as strong as your weakest link”
Makes you wonder how they won 5 games.

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

the s and the d are too close on the key board.I have a thick finger.

ok....is that a sly way of saying you are giving me the middle finger!!!!!!!...

anyhow....GO VOLS

orange__hammerhead writes:

Anybody else heard about this guy Scroggins from SoCal ?

His momma's family has deep MEMPHIS ROOTS

4 STARS! Little pressure on Heaps or is his interest waning in VOLS due to Washington's new coach?

http://tennessee.scout.com/2/859014.html

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to DennisVols:

After reading an article this morning about Foster and what was going on with this team as the season progressed or digressed as it was it should not surprise anyone how any of the player performed last year.
The locker room was in shatters concerning the players. They began to blame one another for the problems, pointing fingers, which Fulmer stated on several occasions that it wasn't happening.
The coaching staff could not or would not make a decision as to who was going to be the QB. This made each one of them spend more time looking over their shoulder than looking down field. No one can perform up to their talent level if they feel like one mistake and I'm done.
I don't believe we ever got to truly see what any of the 3 could do last year. If the coaching staff can't make a decision concerning the offensive system, how can you expect the players to be able to make one?
I hate it that Nick broke his wrist going into spring. I thought last year he was able to move out of the pocket better and was the better passer. The system all 3 played in last year was messed up (being nice there) and it is now obvious the coaching staff had lost complete control of the locker room which destroyed the confidence of the whole team. “You are only as strong as your weakest link”
Makes you wonder how they won 5 games.

i have to agree with you....i have to throw last year completely out....and now we are a year behind...

we limped into the SEC champsionship game..but i think that's where we are....

i think we won 5 games last year on shear talent....just plumb confused.....now, we have the same talent (if not better) than 2 years ago.....and hopefully the caoching will be better....

Voluvr writes:

Here's the breakdown. Like it or not.

Crompton has the strongest are. No contest. Without him there's no deep threat. They will take away the short pass on us without him.

Then, there's the, "will he be able to go with a simplified offense?" Hopefully, last year was more confusion than anything. We can hope. But, he's the starter...Like it or not. That's it.

Outside shot is that Rozier picks it up quick and can go or will be #2 if needed. He would be good Tebow prep QB in practice too.

It's Crompton.

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to orange__hammerhead:

Anybody else heard about this guy Scroggins from SoCal ?

His momma's family has deep MEMPHIS ROOTS

4 STARS! Little pressure on Heaps or is his interest waning in VOLS due to Washington's new coach?

http://tennessee.scout.com/2/859014.html

or maybe we could get Mustain from USC....he's 3rd string....i bet he's ticked...he should've stayed at Arkansas.....

Isn't Scroggins from the same school as Montana????

I'm sure im wrong because it'd be hard to have two from the same school

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

thanks for the laugh!!!

I'll have to use that one in traffic!!!

Voluvr writes:

James Hurst....North Carolina? To block for who? He could have blocked for Bryce Brown and David Oku and one of the top QB's in the nation. Hurst a top talent going to the ACC at NC when he could have played for anyone is like a girl going to the Masters.....a wasted badge.

Voluvr writes:

At least go to NC State, somewhat a football school. UNC is a pure basketball school. He has to be thinking of other things than the next level in football.

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Here's the breakdown. Like it or not.

Crompton has the strongest are. No contest. Without him there's no deep threat. They will take away the short pass on us without him.

Then, there's the, "will he be able to go with a simplified offense?" Hopefully, last year was more confusion than anything. We can hope. But, he's the starter...Like it or not. That's it.

Outside shot is that Rozier picks it up quick and can go or will be #2 if needed. He would be good Tebow prep QB in practice too.

It's Crompton.

i agree with you on the analogy of a weak arm....but, doesn't Stephens have a strong arm? (when his wrist is strong)....and coleman threw some decent mid range passes....and with a good running game...when the defense has to put 7 in the box.....one on one coverage could be a blessing

VAvolfanRON writes:

did i just sounded like i knew what i was talking about????...lmao

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Voluvr:

James Hurst....North Carolina? To block for who? He could have blocked for Bryce Brown and David Oku and one of the top QB's in the nation. Hurst a top talent going to the ACC at NC when he could have played for anyone is like a girl going to the Masters.....a wasted badge.

you are kidding me??....i thought we had a great shot at him.....where did you hear this?....arrrghhhh

Voluvr writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

i agree with you on the analogy of a weak arm....but, doesn't Stephens have a strong arm? (when his wrist is strong)....and coleman threw some decent mid range passes....and with a good running game...when the defense has to put 7 in the box.....one on one coverage could be a blessing

Guys, I don't like it anymore than you do but Stephens doesn't know when to NOT throw into coverage. BJ doesn't have the long ball. Crompton has the arm. If you don't have the possibility of doing something it's a weakness and it will be exploited.
My fear is that he's a practice QB. We'll see what happens when the whistle blows.

Voluvr writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

you are kidding me??....i thought we had a great shot at him.....where did you hear this?....arrrghhhh

on volquest.com

Voluvr writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Guys, I don't like it anymore than you do but Stephens doesn't know when to NOT throw into coverage. BJ doesn't have the long ball. Crompton has the arm. If you don't have the possibility of doing something it's a weakness and it will be exploited.
My fear is that he's a practice QB. We'll see what happens when the whistle blows.

You may be right but from everything I've read I think they are looking this way.

orange__hammerhead writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

or maybe we could get Mustain from USC....he's 3rd string....i bet he's ticked...he should've stayed at Arkansas.....

Isn't Scroggins from the same school as Montana????

I'm sure im wrong because it'd be hard to have two from the same school

Mustain messed up - just like the kid that transferred from TN to TX Tech or whatever - when Peyton got the nod.

Scroggins is not at same HS as Montana

Also, would Mustain be out of eligibility if he lost another year?

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Guys, I don't like it anymore than you do but Stephens doesn't know when to NOT throw into coverage. BJ doesn't have the long ball. Crompton has the arm. If you don't have the possibility of doing something it's a weakness and it will be exploited.
My fear is that he's a practice QB. We'll see what happens when the whistle blows.

hey....im all for whoever kiffin choses...im just questioning your overview of the QBs.....And isn't Compton the epitimy of a practice QB?...again dont get me wrong....i will root my arse off for Compton, Stephens, Coleman or Reviez!!!!....

Voluvr writes:

I'm ready for Heaps to commit so he can start recruiting. Andrew Hendrix wouldn't be bad either.

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