Tennessee is the only team in the SEC that hasn’t named a starting quarterback, but the Vols won’t be for much longer.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said he would use a lengthy practice on Thursday and mock game on Friday to decide the race. He then plans to name a starting quarterback early next week.
“I tell you what, competition is the greatest motivating force,” Jones told a crowd at the annual Welcome Back Barbecue. “It’s extremely healthy.”
Junior Justin Worley, the favorite, is fending off challenges from redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs.
Jones said all four players have improved in camp, but that he’s seeking more consistency.
“The competition has really elevated the play of all four individuals,” Jones said.
The Vols took a break Tuesday and Wednesday for the start of the fall semester, but their practice on Thursday will be “grueling” and could last as long as 2 1/2 hours, Jones said.
The mock game at Neyland Stadium is not scheduled to be open to the media or the public.
On the injury front, Jones said linebacker Curtis Maggitt, who is returning from an ACL injury, is at “85 percent.” Defensive coordinator John Jancek said on Monday that he’s not counting on Maggitt to be ready for the season opener Aug. 31 against Austin Peay.
Injured defensive end Jacques Smith didn’t rule out a return for the opener. He said he hopes to have the pin in his broken thumb removed by then.