Peyton Manning couldn't do it. Neither could Heath Shuler.
Or Andy Kelly, Tony Robinson or Condredge Holloway.
Nobody has ever started at quarterback the first time they put on a Vol uniform.
But, if all goes according to plan, that will change against UNLV.
Last week, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said that freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer were the co-leaders for the starting spot.
Both have shown the pure ability to have the distinction of being the Vols' first-ever freshman starting QB in game one.
Some have said that others in the past were worthy of starting their first games, and many have wanted to compare this season to the so-called quarterback controversy of 1994.
But there was no controversy heading into that season.
Tennessee had a dependable, quality quarterback returning to the sideline. Jerry Colquitt had lost a battle with Shuler in '92, but waited for his time. That time came when Shuler announced he was leaving early for what he called the "true proving ground" of the NFL.
(As we all saw, Shuler only proved that he should have hung around another year as his professional career was a colossal bust.)
Heading into the '94 season's first game at UCLA, there was no question about the starting quarterback position. Incoming freshmen Manning and Branndon Stewart had lots of talent, but Colquitt's experience outweighed their potential.
Alas, a freak career-ending knee injury befell Colquitt on the seventh play of that game, forcing Fulmer to call first on backup Todd Helton, and eventually on the freshmen.
Manning won the starting job by the season's fifth gam, but it took an injury to Helton to give him the chance.
If there was any controversy in that season, it came later in the year when Manning and Stewart were battling for playing time.
Many Tennessee fans believed that Stewart was the better freshman. For most of that season, Stewart outshined Manning in several areas.
But Stewart knew he wasn't going to beat out Lil' Archie. So he transferred to Texas A&M, where he had a successful career, including a Big 12 title.
And now, 10 years later, two more freshmen will be battling it out, albeit this time from game one.
One has been heralded as the best quarterback out of Oregon since Joey Harrington - maybe better.
The other has agility unlike anything seen at UT since Robinson, and has drawn many favorable comparisons to Michael Vick.
Who will win the battle? Will there be a two-quarterback rotation throughout the year?
Will the eventual backup transfer after the season with the coming of top prospect Jonathan Crompton in 2005?
Whatever happens, it should be fun to watch.
- Wes Todd is a senior in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This isn't at all like '94 season
Published: Wed Aug 25, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:18 p.m.