I have a suggestion for Lane Kiffin as he recruits Tennessee's next great quarterback.
Don't go junior college. Or even transfers for that matter.
For all the great prospects that Kiffin will recruit to Knoxville and all those that he has already convinced to play for UT, quarterback is the most important.
UT's next quarterback will be the on-field leader of the Kiffin regime. He needs to be solid on the field and even more solid off.
I understand that UT is already woefully thin at quarterback and will get even thinner next year. For 2010, the Vols have Nick Stephens returning, who was less than stellar in the Claw-fense debacle led by Dave Clawson last season, and Mike Rozier, who is best known as a former minor-league pitcher.
Yet I'd turn the keys over to either of them before I'd hand the reigns to the handful of juco/transfer prospects that UT is considering.
Take Cameron Newton for instance. The former Florida quarterback with fundamental issues in his delivery was dismissed by coach Urban Meyer after he was found to be in possession of a stolen laptop.
Now at Blinn Community College in Brenham, Texas, many think Newton is headed to Mississippi State to be reunited with former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, who will make his coaching debut.
Sounds about right.
Then there's Robert Marve, the former Miami quarterback who managed to get suspended twice in one season before bolting.
Given Kiffin's willingness to send Vols packing, he and Marve could be like oil and water.
Marve<0x00A0>was a highly touted prospect who hasn't lived up to his billing and seems a bit of a 'tweener: part runner, part passer. Kiffin wants a pocket passer.
How about Matt Simms? The former Louisville quarterback is toiling away at El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif. Yet he was never that great of a prospect coming out of high school and was also suspended while with the Cardinals.
Good thing universities don't charge junior college quarterbacks for checked baggage.
Quarterback is just not the position where you risk character flaws. I'll take a defensive tackle with a strike or two. Not a quarterback.
UT fans know all too well what can happen. Calling Brent Schaeffer.
Remember the flashes of talent. Then remember Schaeffer being dismissed following a string of disciplinary issues.
In his second chance at Ole Miss, Schaeffer didn't live up his billing once again and played a role in the firing of Ed Orgeron.
For every successful transfer, such as Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead, there are a handful of those who didn't benefit from a change of scenery.
Snead is a rarity. Most junior college players are in junior college for a reason. Most transfers transfer for a reason. Most of those reasons aren't good.
A junior college or transfer quarterback could provide some depth at UT but what if he's really needed and folds. An average season can go bad quickly.
Sure, UT needs help at quarterback and the pickings are slim for the 2010 class. Perhaps it's time to lower expectations a bit if an elite quarterback can't be secured soon. Perhaps one or two prospects a little lower on UT's list could fit the bill.
Upper level high school quarterbacks are playing the usual waiting game. The second tier would jump at the chance to be a part of UT's newfound excitement.
Casey Clausen wasn't an elite prospect, yet he managed to become one of the most productive quarterbacks in UT history. With UT's strong stable of offensive coaches, a good prospect could certainly become a great college player.
Fans may not be patient. UT athletic director Mike Hamilton will. He's so sure of Kiffin that he gave him a $7.5 million buyout for 2009 and 2010, then a $6 million buyout for 2011 and 2012.
Kiffin told fans to be patient as he assembled his staff.<0x00A0>The waiting was well worth it.
Now it's time to be patient again.