Tough to read Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray when it comes to his NFL plans

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray passes against Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 41-18. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Photo by Mark Humphrey

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray passes against Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 41-18. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

When Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray walks onto the field at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, will it be his last game as a Vol?

That same question could be asked of other juniors, like receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, who will also have a chance to leave early for the NFL. But for Bray, the question is more intriguing because of the muddled legacy he would leave at Tennessee.

"We play Kentucky on Saturday," Bray said to the first of three questions that tried to get a read on his future. "That's all I'm worried about."

Could Tennessee's new coach affect his NFL plans?

"We've got Kentucky," Bray said. "That's all I'm going to say."

The Vols (4-7, 0-7 SEC) and Wildcats (2-9, 0-7) meet on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.) in a battle of winless teams in conference with a lame-duck (Joker Phillips) and interim ( Jim Chaney) coach.

Because the game has no postseason implications, most of the storylines have focused on the UT seniors playing their final game and the juniors who might be.

Hunter and Patterson haven't commented about the possibility of going pro, but both are considered potential first-round picks who are very likely to leave. Offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James could also leave early depending on the feedback from his NFL evaluation.

But most of the mystery surrounds Bray, whose entire family will be in town from California to watch the season finale.

During a three-week span, he put up numbers that would be the envy of any quarterback in the nation — 1,302 yards, 13 touchdowns, just one interception. Then came last Saturday's game at Vanderbilt. Bray looked like a different quarterback. Benched in the second quarter to "settle down," Bray completed only 11 of 29 passes and threw two interceptions in one of the worst games of his career.

That's not the impression that Bray wants to leave for NFL scouts, so Saturday's game against Kentucky is important. But his track record against the Wildcats isn't very good. Bray was only 15-for-38 last year in the Vols' 10-7 loss to Kentucky that snapped a 26-game winning streak in the series.

Bray said last year's Kentucky game and last week's Vandy game are comparable.

"We got handled (against Kentucky), just like last week," Bray said. "We didn't execute, and it showed."

Bray said he wasn't bitter about his benching. Chaney said he suggested the move and Derek Dooley backed it.

"I wasn't producing," Bray said. "That's that."

Chaney will be on the sidelines rather than the press box Saturday for the first time in Bray's career, but Bray said the change isn't a big deal. Instead of talking to Chaney on the phone, he'll do so in person.

Dooley's dismissal on Sunday, he acknowledged, wasn't a surprise.

"You can't get too bent out of shape with who's the head coach," Bray said.

"Everyone knew it was going to come at some point with all of the media attention. We don't care who's our coach. Coach Dooley did a great job, I'd like to thank him for the three years. Coach Chaney's going to step in and we are going to get this win."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Bray 2012 timeline

July 21 — Bray represents the Vols at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. “He’s our quarterback, and he’s the face of our offense,” coach Derek Dooley says. “He needs to understand what it’s like to stand in front of all these cameras and be accountable to you guys just like he’s accountable to the team.”

July 25 — Police announce that Bray has offered to pay for damages and will face no charges in connection with a vandalism incident at his apartment complex.

Aug. 8 — Bray reached an agreement to resolve a charge of reckless operation of a watercraft stemming from an incident July 4 at Tellico Lake.

Oct. 13 — After a loss to Mississippi State, Bray sends a tweet that says: We got some bandwagon fans. Hopefully my (apartment) isn’t egged.” He later apologizes.

Oct. 20 — Bray completes only 13 of 27 passes and throws two interceptions in Tennessee’s 44-13 loss to Alabama. He doesn’t talk to reporters after the game.

Oct. 22 — Dooley says Bray could be benched if he doesn’t cut down on his interceptions. He also criticizes the quarterback for failing to speak to the media, telling him to “man up.”

Nov. 3 — Bray throws for a school-record 530 yards in a 55-48 victory over Troy.

Nov. 17 — Bray is benched in the second quarter at Vanderbilt. He finishes with a season-low 103 yards on 11-of-29 passing. He also threw two interceptions.

Evan Woodbery

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Comments » 96

BankerVol writes:

Please declare and go away Tyler.

movol53 writes:

He certainly has the physical tools but he fades in any pressure and any big opponent. He could not even handle Vandy's pressure and KY from last year. I don't know if he has the maturity he needs to move on to the NFL. His body language has improved this year but it is not where it needs to be. Plus I've seldom seen a sideline shot of him "talking up" the offense when n the sideline.

baldingalum writes:

He will be a very good pro. He is the best pure passer we've had in a long time. He has a strong arm and throws the deep ball well. That written, another year of college would serve him well - raise his stock and get him high in the first round...possibly first.

BankerVol writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tyler has all the tools but no heart. Who cares how far or fast he can throw a football. How many big games has he won? He's soft and a quitter in my opinion.

I hope he does get drafted and one day lives up to his enormous potential but nothing I've seen from so far him makes me think he will.

MD_Vol writes:

He definitely has the arm but needs another year of coaching to work on the mental part of the game. And to mature. I'd love to see his potential after working with a better coaching staff and with a team with more confidence.

DavidB writes:

I don't see hunter or Patterson as first round picks this year. Patterson is the most exciting player I have seen in a long time but only when he has the ball. He continues to run the wrong routes. Hunter still needs work and many times is afraid to put his body on the line to make some catches.

Bray could possibly go late in the first round but his maturity level will get him stuck on the practice squad.

All 3 need another year in the weight room and training to learn how to win. None have part of winning big games. They need to announce the next coaching staff before players decide on going to the nfl. This gives them their best chance.

GreerVol22 writes:

Too much of a head case for the NFL to take him seriously. He good...but he could be great if he wants it bad enough...and yes...I think he mailed in that Vandy game...which presents problems too.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

Bray could benefit from a year under a coach that can teach/manage him. I will not join the bash Dooley posts but he was not ready for the task handed to him, including Bray. The talent is there but he needs to be taught. A confident NFL coach may feel up to the task or they all may decide to let the next UT coach do the work needed. To sum up my post, "I dunno know".

SteelerNation writes:

Bray has won as many big games in his career as his head coach...zero. His coaches never put him in position to win. Yes he has some growing up to do but he is the best QB on our team. Patterson is flunking out of school people so he is gone. Hunter is number one rated WR on McShays board. He's gone. He is afraid to get hurt.

gwbask writes:

I've been a Bray supporter since his arrival (he's from the same area that I grew up in). With that being said, he is not ready for the pro's, mentally, physically nor experience wise to take the next step.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

If Bray listens to all the NFL talking heads he'll think he is going to be the next Peyton Manning when in fact he could be the next Ryan Leaf. He NEEDS someone to sit him down and give him an honest evaluation of his talent and his potential.

baldingalum writes:

in response to DavidB:

I don't see hunter or Patterson as first round picks this year. Patterson is the most exciting player I have seen in a long time but only when he has the ball. He continues to run the wrong routes. Hunter still needs work and many times is afraid to put his body on the line to make some catches.

Bray could possibly go late in the first round but his maturity level will get him stuck on the practice squad.

All 3 need another year in the weight room and training to learn how to win. None have part of winning big games. They need to announce the next coaching staff before players decide on going to the nfl. This gives them their best chance.

Are you kidding? Hunter is the first wide receiver taken. Why you may ask based on how many drops he had this year and his ability to hand his head early. BUT... He is tall and fast and he explodes out of his cuts. The guy can literally get open with one step.

frblalack writes:

Bray should turn pro NOW! Give a genuine leader, Justin Worley, the start. Next year with Worley & Peterman the Vols will be just fine!

I predict Bray gets drafted, turns pro, & NEVER makes it past the scout team or 3rd team at best. He'll probably get in a few mop-up games until he takes an NFL hit. Tennessee needs a guy who doesn't fold under pressure, and who plays his best ALL the time! I've never seen our great quarterback scramble ONCE to make a crucial first down? But I have seen too much of a spoiled attitude from a kid who thinks it's okay to take the "day off". All he did was cost Coach Dooley his job; doesn't seem to bother TB though, just another day before he can throw some more beer bottles. What's he say, "I love Coach Dooley but coaching changes are just part of the game". Yeah, tell that to Coach's family. I personally think Coach Chaney should reconsider and put Bray on the bench for the entire Kentucky game.

All Vols

orange_eVOLution writes:

Bray needs a senior year to prove he can beat somebody worth a darn. As for Hunter and Patterson, it's anybody's guess. Patterson has raw talent, but still cannot run proper routes nor does he understand discipline (like NOT taunting and having touchdowns wiped away). IMO, all three need a senior year... especially under a Gruden staff.

GO VOLS!!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to baldingalum:

Are you kidding? Hunter is the first wide receiver taken. Why you may ask based on how many drops he had this year and his ability to hand his head early. BUT... He is tall and fast and he explodes out of his cuts. The guy can literally get open with one step.

Hunter is the first wide receiver taken WHY? Go do some homework on the rest of the nation's wide receivers in college football. You don't drop the balls he dropped and go as first WR in the draft.

BankerVol writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Like I said. I hope he gets drafted and wish him well. I've just seen enough of him in Orange to not want to see any more. He has been a huge disappointment.

baldingalum writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Hunter is the first wide receiver taken WHY? Go do some homework on the rest of the nation's wide receivers in college football. You don't drop the balls he dropped and go as first WR in the draft.

Remains first on ESPN's board

hokievol writes:

Tyler doesn't lack heart, he has too much of it. He's a college kid who put too much pressure on himself to try to save his HC and played poorly because of it. Last year he let his emotions of a dreadful season effect his play against Kentucky. I think when he is a few years older and a professional he will know how to control his emotions and perform consistantly. He needs another year in college, for sure.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to baldingalum:

Remains first on ESPN's board

Which means squat.

BankerVol writes:

in response to hokievol:

Tyler doesn't lack heart, he has too much of it. He's a college kid who put too much pressure on himself to try to save his HC and played poorly because of it. Last year he let his emotions of a dreadful season effect his play against Kentucky. I think when he is a few years older and a professional he will know how to control his emotions and perform consistantly. He needs another year in college, for sure.

Hokie... Are you ovulating?

HallowedHill writes:

in response to baldingalum:

Are you kidding? Hunter is the first wide receiver taken. Why you may ask based on how many drops he had this year and his ability to hand his head early. BUT... He is tall and fast and he explodes out of his cuts. The guy can literally get open with one step.

I think his performance against Florida and how easily he was jammed, throwing him off his game indicates he could use another year. Just my $.02.

VolGrad writes:

I'm not sure if Bray is NFL ready just yet, but I could not fault him if he left.

UTKin1992 writes:

Bray has no business in the NFL in 2013. More reps and better coaching will up his stock considerably but by no means is he ready now. Hunter is the same. Patterson could possibly walk into a late first or early second round pick. Whatever. Good luck guys.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

Bray needs to talk to Heath Shuler about his deicision to leave early. How'd that work out? And Tyler is no Heath Shuler.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

in response to HallowedHill:

I think his performance against Florida and how easily he was jammed, throwing him off his game indicates he could use another year. Just my $.02.

Hunter's performance was somewhat thrown off by the knee. Only someone whose had this injury knows it takes time to get over it physically and mentally. If he goes early, it will be in the 1st round. Ditto for Patterson.
Bray should stay another year - he could really improve his stock with another year under the right coach.

UT2006 writes:

I would love nothing more than the opportunity to watch those guys play for another year, but I understand if they have the chance of a lifetime and are drafted into the NFL... that being said, my prediction is that patterson goes, bray stays and hunter is a coin flip (dropped more passes than usual)

wallingdad writes:

Hunter may be a great receiver but he was not coached well. after every catch he either ran backwards a bit or danced around. on more than one occasion he did not pick up a first down because of that. also, it seems that he has one or two drops in each game.
Patterson is a raw talented hot dog prima donna. he will fit right in with the NFL.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

It's incredible how many pro scouts we have on this site. I feel like I don't belong, since I'm only a fan, and don't know shiz about which players NFL teams will want the most.

imw8n4u writes:

Watching these interviews of Bray is like watching an interview of Bill Belichick, short, snippy responses with no real information. If he does come back, I hope it's an open competition that gives Worley a fair shot to win the job.

jt45 writes:

I would like to see how Bray performs with a better coach at the helm, he had some very good games this year, I think he played well for most of the season and more wins with a better defense might have helped his confidence in close games. Most of what some are calling attitude I see as frustration and maybe he still needs a season to work on some things. There were a couple of games where he lost focus on, but the rest of the team did as well. A better coach might possibly take his raw talent to a new level. I wish he could learn to move better in the pocket a pick up those 2nd and 3rd reads instead of always dumping the ball when the 1st read isn't there.

I think Hunter is gone, he has played very carefully this season and avoids any contact. I think he played to avoid any possible injuries and may have given up a few in order to stay healthy for the draft, in hindsight that may have been a smart move on his part considering how the season has turned out. With his career on the line I dont blame him, but he hasent been the same Hunter that ive seen in the past. The injury he had may still be a mental barrier at times.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to BankerVol:

Please declare and go away Tyler.

Football much? ?

jt45 writes:

Patterson will be a major player in the NFL, his open field running combined with a quality QB who can find the open man will make him a serious threat wherever he goes. He isnt a route receiver, hes a much bigger threat off screen passes and there should be alot of opportunity for him with pro style offenses once he gets used to that format.

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

When thinking about TB's possibility of declaring for the NFL, I can't help but be reminded of the commercial in which the announcer proudly proclaims that "We let our cheese mature before it leaves our care." As explosive as TB & Co have been on numerous occasions, it seems as if time and time again when the game was on the line that these young men were unable to deliver. It was obvious that JH played much more conservatively this year, and understandably so. CP was the most dynamic and gifted playmaker on the entire squad, but there were entire games in which he seemed to disappear and became pretty much a non-factor as a WR. And TB, for all his gifts and abilities, IMO, has for the most part failed to demonstrate a consistency in his role as leader and primary playmaker. I certainly don't place all of the blame on his shoulders but it was obvious to anyone watching the Vandy game that he & his receivers were not in sync. I had even posted before that game that I felt Worley might be making a rare appearance based upon the fact that the offense all but disappeared in the 2nd half of the MO game. (I personally felt that burning Worley's redshirt last year was another bad coaching decision, but I can also understand the desperation that prompted that decision.) Whatever these young men decide to do, I sincerely wish them the best and would like to thank them for their commitment to the BO nation. But with the chances of succeeding in the NFL being such a longshot, I would sure hope they would consider the value that a degree from UT might provide them for their future. If Sat is to be their last collegiate experience, I certainly hope they go out with a win, not for my sake obviously, but for theirs. The memory of being the UT squad to give up 2 consecutive losses to Ky would haunt them for the rest of their lives regardless of how much they would ever be paid to play on Sunday.

trl_x writes:

I didn't have a problem with Dooley pulling Bray in the first half. My problem was with Dooley putting him back in. For Bray to give the kind of effort he gave against Vandy with his coaches fate in the balance is inexcusable.

I'd play Worley. There should be consequences for your actions.

Myrsaad writes:

I think most of us Vol fans know Bray is the most talented QB we've had since Peyton. I also think most of us can tell he's not ready for the NFL yet. As talented as he is, he's just too inconsistent to ever see the field. He'll get one big paycheck, live 3 years as a backup (if he's lucky) then we'll see Bray's Crab Shack somewhere out west .. and that'll be the last we hear of him. Stay one more year, improve the way he has every year.. and he might be able to do what only Manning did. Get a chance to Start in the NFL.

tdvol1989 writes:

All 3 of these guys (Bray, Hunter, & Patterson) have NFL talent. However, getting drafted and having a successful NFL career are 2 very different things.

Of the 3, only Hunter is mentally ready to PLAY in the NFL. The issue is that he could use a little more strength and the first year back from the knee is always a transition. However, having had a big injury already, I could see him bolting. He really needs to work on his physicality though. Right now, he would get pushed off of routes.

Bray has not perfected his technique and really needs more developing. If we get a really good staff, he should consider staying and learning how to play against Bama. The streets are littered with QB's who got drafted, but were not ready to play. And, once you get labeled a journeyman/backup, it is really hard to get out of that.

Patterson is physically gifted, but let's face it. He gets most of his touches on gimmick plays. He does not run crisp routes and he basically would just be a kickoff guy (maybe screens) in the NFL for awhile. He is the least prepared mentally of the 3.

I would not advise any of them to go, but those $$$ are hard to overlook.

Myrsaad writes:

As far as Hunter going, he's highly talented, that's obvious. But the kid has a lot of wide open drops. That said, ESPN has him rated as the number 1 junior wide out in the country and some of their pundits say he'll be the first receiver chosen if he goes. If that's the case then he has to go I think.

Offsuit83 writes:

in response to BankerVol:

Please declare and go away Tyler.

You're a dope, to say something like that. Tyler, whatever his shortcomings, is a young man who has worked hard and given his all for the Vols. Has he made mistakes on and off the field? Yes, but truth be told, he is no different than we were at his age. YOU and people of your ilk are those who need to go away.

TYLER, whatever you decide, you will have support from Big Orange Nation!

Volunatic writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Bray needs a senior year to prove he can beat somebody worth a darn. As for Hunter and Patterson, it's anybody's guess. Patterson has raw talent, but still cannot run proper routes nor does he understand discipline (like NOT taunting and having touchdowns wiped away). IMO, all three need a senior year... especially under a Gruden staff.

GO VOLS!!

In the NFL, touchdowns aren't wiped away for taunting.
I'd love to see Cordarrelle return, but I won't blame him if he doesn't.

jobrando#216494 writes:

Tyler should get his degree before NFL

claiborneh writes:

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

klrigsby#1377153 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Tyler should get his degree before NFL

That would be the smart move my friend but with all the money to be made in the NFL most kids lose sight of that.I have tried to get behind Tyler the past two seasons but he just seems to rub me the wrong way so I say let him go and maybe he will go up

Vol-Believr writes:

This guy has all of the tools to be successful in the NFL , but I have to question his heart and maturity . I would think that any team that drafted him would handcuff a full time shrink and handler to him . It is obvious that he folds under pressure . I believe he would benefit from one more year in college under the direction of a head coach that can provide some discipline and guidance not only on the field but off of it as well .

1vavolfan writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have been a supporter of Bray but these comments are laughable. None of the draft experts have him in their top 100. Yes he has an arm but this is not Major League Baseball where all you need is a 100 mph fastball. He makes poor decisions and has a terrible attitude.If he has a hard time with Vanderbilt's defense what will the Steeler's and Raven's do to him? The future for QB for Tennessee IMO is Riley Ferguson.

JDX47 writes:

Two words: Ryan Leaf

JayTee writes:

The NFL doesn't take quitters. Need I remind you both Bray and Hunter quit on their team mates because they didn't want to play in one of the lower rated bowl games last year.

rbwtn writes:

Hey let's be real Bray could be a Great Quarterback but he isn't yet. He's a perfect fit for the NFL however I'd stay another year just to show the NFH and Tennessee Fans how valuable he is. If he goes to the NFH so be it.

knoxchatter writes:

in response to Offsuit83:

You're a dope, to say something like that. Tyler, whatever his shortcomings, is a young man who has worked hard and given his all for the Vols. Has he made mistakes on and off the field? Yes, but truth be told, he is no different than we were at his age. YOU and people of your ilk are those who need to go away.

TYLER, whatever you decide, you will have support from Big Orange Nation!

You're a moron plain and simple! True Vol Nation fans...and realistic ones...are sick and tired of the 'young man/immature' excuses for Tyler Bray. One of the purposes of college sports is to take young boys and develop them into disciplined and mature young men. The athletes have to do their part however. Bray has had THREE YEARS to do so...and has not even come close. In any meaningful game, he has folded under pressure, quit, and has not performed or led anywhere close to the calibur of a SEC quarterback...and not even remotely close to what would be required as a leader in the NFL.
So stop already with the 'he's just young' excuses...that excuse should have started fading three years ago. And that is a REALISTIC view of the current Bray!

SevenT writes:

Tyler Bray will NEVER make it in the NFL, bottom line is Bray is lazy and stupid. To make it in the NFL you must work and study the game. Forget about it Tyler, you are a second rate nobody, better stay at Tennessee.

utclyde16 writes:

He is not ready for the pros. He needs to mature physically and mentally. Until he can finish a game and not choke, he's not ready. The only person that could leave early is Patterson. Hunter has to make catches in the clutch and so far he hasn't. He lost as many games for us as Bray.

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