There were a three-year starter and a two-year starter, both obvious spokesmen for their respective units.
The third choice was a three-game starter.
Justin Worley hopes to be Tennessee’s full-time quarterback. But for now, that’s just a hope.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot to read into it,’’ Worley said of his selection to meet the media.
Every detail, no matter how trivial, of Jones’ first spring practice at UT will be read into. And the race to replace Tyler Bray is hardly trivial.
Worley, a junior in the fall, is the only quarterback on the roster who’s taken a snap. The majority of them were hazardous duty, starting as a freshman against South Carolina and Arkansas in 2011.
His spring competition comes from redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman. When fall camp opens, signees Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson and Knoxville walk-on Charlie High enter the mix.
But back to Friday. Jones didn’t have to offer Worley to the media on the eve of spring practice. There were other options.
Worley’s appearance doesn’t suggest he’s going to be the starter against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. What it does suggest is that Worley has handled himself well in the daily competition to develop leadership that Jones instituted after he was hired Dec. 7.
That’s a start. There isn’t much else to go on. In winter conditioning or skill drills, NCAA rules prohibit players from even touching a football.
“Just to have a football in our hands,’’ said offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, “and see these guys throw for really the first time, I can’t tell you how excited I am.’’
So far, the only throwing Bajakian has watched is videotape of Worley’s nine appearances over two years at UT. That and high school video of Peterman, whom he tried to recruit to Cincinnati.
The incoming signees can’t be totally discounted. In 2004, UT coach Phillip Fulmer elected to go with a pair of true freshmen, Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge, on opening day rather than lackluster holdover, C.J. Leak.
Still, Jones termed it “extremely hard” Friday for true freshmen to “make a difference” at quarterback.
It’s also incumbent on Worley and Peterman to use their spring head start to prove they’re more than lackluster holdovers.
Toward that end, adapting to Jones’ scheme is essential. Both Worley and Bajakian downplayed Worley’s thin resume as a runner.
“I don’t think I’m a terrible runner,’’ Worley said. “I’m not gonna tell you I’m a dual-threat guy, either.’’
“The reality of the position,’’ said Bajakian, “is first and foremost, they need to be able to throw the football. What we put on their plate in the passing game is the most important thing.
“Their ability with the ball in their hands, that’s secondary.’’
Their ability to manage the game when the live bullets are flying, that’s primary to the head coach. Jones isn’t a big fan of passing drills, comparing them to a golfer at the driving range. No rush. No pressure.
Promised Jones, “We will do an inordinate amount of team repetitions this spring.’’
Spring is merely the beginning of a long process. There’s much to learn about the candidates.