It has been the question since former quarterback Tyler Bray declared for the NFL Draft following the 2012 season. Who will be named Tennessee's starting quarterback for the season opener against Austin Peay on Saturday?
Head coach Butch Jones is expected to officially make the announcement at his noon press conference today.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported early Sunday afternoon that junior Justin Worley will begin the season as signal caller, a decision that would surprise few after Worley took first team reps during most of fall camp.
"They kind of put me in the role, but they've definitely given the other guys opportunities to take reps as well," Worley said at football media day on Aug. 15.
Attempts to reach UT football officials for confirmation of the report on Sunday were unsuccessful, but when Jones spoke to the media after Thursday's practice, he made it clear that the quarterback competition is not over when a starter is named.
"I would like to settle in to one guy but the competition will not be over with," Jones said. "It's all about productivity in your body of work and I think we proved that last year at Cincinnati. We were 5-2 and we made a quarterback change. So it'll be an ongoing process of really evaluating how we can continue to grow and develop at that position."
Worley is the only quarterback of the four candidates with a collegiate start under his belt. He started three games in place of an injured Bray in 2011 and also saw action as a backup in five games during the 2012 season.Other candidates for the job are Nathan Peterman – a redshirt freshman recruited heavily by Jones when he coached at Cincinnati – and true freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.Ferguson specifically drew praise from Jones after a recent practice when quarterbacks “went live.”
“The individual who stepped up was Riley Ferguson,” Jones said after practice on Aug. 16. “I thought that he showed some poise. The thing I liked about him was his pocket presence. He doesn’t get rattled.”
Jones was quick to clarify he was not crowning Ferguson as the starter.Worley and Peterman were listed as co-starters on the fall camp depth chart released Aug. 1.
“I know Nathan has taken first team reps, and Josh and Riley all have,” Worley said. “So they’re really just trying to feel everybody out and see what they can do for the team.”