The backup plan was always there for Charlie High if he needed it.
The former Christian Academy of Knoxville quarterback put it into action Friday afternoon. He alerted the football coaches at the University of Tennessee that he would be leaving the program, where he was a freshman and a preferred walk-on, to enroll and play at Tennessee Tech.
The 6-foot, 190-pound High will be eligible to play right away, since Tennessee Tech is a Football Championship Subdivision team. Golden Eagles coach Watson Brown told High, when he chose in early February to walk on at Tennessee, that he’d always have a spot at Tennessee Tech should High ever change his mind.
“It was a great thing for Coach Brown to do that,” said High, a two-time Mr. Football winner, two-time Class 3A state champion and two-time PrepXtra Offensive Player of the Year.
“I’m really thankful he did.”
Playing at Tennessee was High’s dream, but the thought of possibly transferring was one he wrestled with the last week or so, he said.
“It was nothing against Tennessee,” he said. “I thought Tennessee Tech would be the perfect place for me to play and have a chance to play earlier. I guess the reason why I went to Tennessee first was: it’s always been my dream to play at Tennessee and be the starter. I had to get that out of my system and try it and see. I have now.
“I’ve just been thinking about it, and Tennessee Tech would be the best fit for the next four years for me.”
UT has four quarterbacks on scholarship: junior Justin Worley, sophomore Nathan Peterman, and freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs.
High called his talk with the Tennessee coaches “real positive” and said “no hard feelings” were involved.
“They said they would love to have me, they don’t want me to go. ‘But if this truly was what I wanted, then good luck,’” said High. “I said I was going to transfer and that I had already made my decision.”
Brown was excited to get the news, said High. The plan now is to get the playbook. The Golden Eagles report to camp next Friday and begin drills the next day. Tennessee Tech opens at home against Cumberland University and plays Sept. 7 at Wisconsin.
Junior quarterback Darian Stone is the No. 1 on the depth chart for Tennessee Tech. The Clinton graduate started the last four games of the 2012 season when Tre Lamb was sidelined with an injury. Lamb is a graduate assistant this season.
Jared Davis, a sophomore from Tullahoma, and Matt Hamby, a junior from Brentwood Academy, are also on the roster.
“They throw it a lot,” High said about Tennessee Tech. “Their past two quarterbacks have broken Tennessee Tech passing records, or maybe (Ohio Valley Conference), I’m not for sure. But they’ve broken passing records.
“That’s what CAK likes to do.”