Tennessee has a running quarterback. He just doesn't run the way you remember UT quarterbacks running.
Condredge Holloway ran defenses crazy when he played quarterback for the Vols in the early 1970s. Tee Martin ran UT to a national championship in 1998.
Tyler Bray reminds no one of Holloway or Martin. He will run sparingly and strategically, just as so many of his UT predecessors have since Peyton Manning seemingly defined the way the position would be played in Big Orange Country. Martin was an aberration.
The Vols have changed coaches repeatedly the past few years. They haven't changed their image of what a quarterback should be: A passer first, a runner when no one is looking.
Former UT coaches Phillip Fulmer and Lane Kiffin both favored the old NFL prototype. Coach Derek Dooley also prefers his quarterbacks to either drop back and throw or hand the ball to someone who can run more adeptly and without endangering the health of the offense.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney adheres to the same philosophy, which manifests itself in UT's recruiting as well as on fall Saturdays.
How much attention do the Vols pay to a quarterback recruit's running ability?
"Not much," Chaney said. "If they have deficiencies in other areas, we will consider it. It doesn't bother me that we don't run a 4.5 (40) at quarterback."
The way Chaney explains a quarterback's running role, a 5.5 probably would do as long as the player could avoid being tripped by a blade of grass.
"If it's third and 5, they're in man coverage, and a big lane pops open, there's no doubt in my mind (Bray) can run for a first down," Chaney said confidently.
I flash back to last season and wonder: "Is he faster?"
"I don't know," Chaney said. "He's got to run 5 yards for a first down in man coverage and nobody standing there. Yeah, hopefully he can scramble his big (backside) for 5 yards."
Although his coaches might be no more concerned about their quarterback's speed than their mascot's, Bray says he has picked up his pace since last season. And he's not referring to his release.
Imagine that. Everyone is so obsessed with how much weight the slender quarterback has gained, Bray's increased foot speed has gone unnoticed.
"I've shaved a few tenths off my 40 time," Bray said with his usual deadpan delivery.
And that drops him to what? 5.2?
"4.9," he said.
He credits UT's strength and conditioning program for his improved 40 time. He credits the new shoes with his enhanced athletic self-esteem.
"I love them," he said. "They make me look more athletic."
Nonetheless, UT fans will cringe when Bray ventures beyond the line of scrimmage — even in the sleeker new shoes. As a runner, the faster Bray still ranks 12th in the SEC among starting quarterbacks.
But his coaches aren't asking him to win a race. Just convert on third-and-5 when no defenders are in the vicinity.
"I take two strides and we've pretty much got a first down," he said. "When you've got big strides, it kind of helps."
Two strides for 5 yards: That's UT's idea of a running quarterback.