Nick Lamaison is sure that he's not coming back to Tennessee.
Where the former junior-college quarterback winds up is seemingly still in the hands of the Vols though.
Currently back home in California and trying to find a place to land after a brief and unsuccessful career with UT, Lamaison appears to have his hands tied thanks to a denial of his request for a release from his scholarship.
A UT official cited the desire to keep the backup in the program as the reason for the recent decision, but with Lamaison adamantly opposed to a return, at the moment that's keeping him from moving on elsewhere and frustrating his old position coach at South Hills (Walnut, Calif.) High School.
"I understand, I get it, he played there and got a scholarship opportunity, there's a new coach and things didn't work out," Michael Owens said Tuesday. "But I feel like they're just penalizing the kid.
"When he left school in May, he told them he wasn't coming back to UT, he asked for a release, they denied it, denied it. The next thing we heard from them was that he signed to play for the University of Tennessee, and we're going to hold you to that. OK, I get that, I understand that.
"Nick's problem is that he feels like he didn't get an opportunity to compete. If he's third on the depth chart and he's not going to get a chance to compete, let him go."
In some ways Lamaison is already free to go play at the lower-division schools closer to his home that have targeted him, but the problem for the would-be sophomore is that college wouldn't be.
If he's not released from his scholarship, the former Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College standout would have to pay his own way or go back to junior college again after redshirting last season with the Vols.
Given financial issues in his family, Owens indicated the former wasn't a viable option and he's doing all he can to help Lamaison avoid the latter.
"The school's being punitive because he told them in May he's not coming back, and they're saying if he's not going to come back they're going to exercise their right to penalize him not to play," Owens said.
"Nick's beat-up emotionally, he said to just forget it and he'd just go back to junior college, but I think it's too important. You only get five years to play four. It's too important.
"They're within their legal rights to do what they're doing, but we're adults. Part of our business is to help young people develop and stay in line, but it's also to take care of them. I can see if Nick was in the plans for them, then fine. But if he's not in the plans, let him go play somewhere else."
Lamaison was an unlikely candidate to play for the Vols this season or down the road, and he never seriously threatened either Jonathan Crompton or Nick Stephens for playing time a year ago either.
Stephens transferred midway through spring practice, but like last fall, Lamaison was again clearly stuck behind two quarterbacks as junior transfer Matt Simms and freshman Tyler Bray quickly jumped him on the depth chart.
The Vols are already working with a smaller roster than they'd like though, and sacrificing some of their depth at quarterback could pose challenges for them in the future - likely a factor in the decision to try to convince Lamaison not to leave.
"He just doesn't trust them now," Owens said. "They're telling him things will be different in the fall, he'll get some reps, but everybody knows you can't rep three quarterbacks in the fall.
"He wanted to leave when (former coach Lane) Kiffin left, but I said, 'No, wait and see this new guy's style.' There's a place for you somewhere in America. It might not be there, but you're good enough to play somewhere else."
Without a release, finding that place has become a bit of a problem.