Matt Simms doesn't have to work only on his legs anymore.
The junior college transfer also is free to get back on the field and get to know new teammates at Tennessee.
A surgically repaired hand is healed, he's cleared for spring practice and, perhaps most important, the quarterback is throwing without any problems or lingering concerns about the broken bone that ended his last season at El Camino (Calif.) College. Heading into what could be a wild, lengthy battle for the starting job at UT, feeling normal again is about all Simms could want right now.
"The surgery was pretty tough," Simms said. "It was definitely a pretty tough injury to go through, especially at the end of the year like that and then coming here right away. But we've got a great training room staff here, and they've definitely helped me out a lot.
"I'm throwing the ball a lot better, I'm feeling good, I'm lifting, so I'm back to normal finally."
That complete package could make Simms a legitimate threat to emerge as the replacement for Jonathan Crompton under center, though more tough tests will be coming when camp officially opens for the Vols on March 18.
Senior Nick Stephens likely will be the favorite considering his experience, and true freshman Tyler Bray also has the tools to be a factor for UT as he develops physically. But if there's still some uncertainty how the Vols will manage a race that will feature at least those three passers, there at least isn't any doubt that Simms will be able to compete.
"You know, it was kind of tough just working back and trying to get strength back in my upper body, because for a while I couldn't really move (the hand) very much," Simms said. "I had a few pins in there so they didn't want it to collapse or something like that, so really I had to just not do anything for a while. It had to be all legs, and they finally sent me back out and I'm back to normal.
"At the time I was just finishing up school at junior college, and really it was just about finishing school strong even though I was injured. My family was really supportive of me and just told me that I had bigger things to look forward to next year, and it's all about getting healthy the right way and just moving forward."
The next step will be the competition to become Derek Dooley's first quarterback at UT, though details about how exactly the new coach will try to sort it out remain a bit of a mystery.
Publicly there's been no plan laid out for spreading around reps, establishing a depth chart or setting a timeline for any decisions - though it would be no surprise if a starter wasn't named until fall. But no matter how the Vols plan on doing it, Simms is ready to get started - and healthy enough to do it.
"No matter who is in the race or what's going on, you just have to improve your skills every day," Simms said. "You've got to be a team player, and if somebody else is in there taking a rep, you've got to be in there behind them supporting them, and when you step in there you have to take charge and do your thing. The biggest thing is just taking one step at a time, just learning the offense as best as you can, getting to know the teammates and stuff like that, just becoming a complete team player.
"I mean, really it's uncertainty for everybody. Going into the break, we're all working hard. We're all on an even keel right now, so as far as that goes, we'll see what happens when spring starts. It's going to be interesting."
But that's just another normal part of being a quarterback. Right now, Simms has no problem with that.