When the four men in red no-contact jerseys entered the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center for post-practice interviews on Friday evening, the storylines formed almost immediately.

Redshirt sophomore Nathan Peterman fielded questions about how he handled his dismal performance in his only 2013 start at Florida.

Sophomore Joshua Dobbs answered inquires concerning his positive weight gain, and mystery man Riley Ferguson drew throngs of reporters interested in peeling back the relatively-unrevealed layers of the redshirt freshman signal caller.

That same type of unknown factor also existed with the fourth member of the UT quarterback race, even though he was the one who started the most games under center for Tennessee last season and helped notch the Vols' upset victory over No. 11 South Carolina.

Perhaps that's because it's been nearly 20 weeks since Justin Worley last appeared in game for the Vols. Worley never returned to the field after halftime of UT's 45-10 loss at Alabama on Oct. 25, 2013. Four days later, he had what turned out to be season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

But since then, Worley said he's done some "soul searching," and claims he's rejuvenated and healthy as spring practice commences.

"I'm a new guy," he said. "I'm coming out here to try my best to win the job. Just be consistent in everything I do.

"I've rehabbed my thumb like crazy to get it healthy in order to be in this position. ... I'm assuming with all these throughout spring practice it'll get a little sore here and there, but no pain or anything like that."

Before checking out in the loss against the Tide, Worley's first season under center was an adventurous one. He quarterbacked the Vols to four victories and a near upset of then-No. 6 Georgia, but drew much criticism from fans in other instances, specifically after a lackluster 142-yard performance against Western Kentucky and a uninspiring, three-interception showing versus South Alabama.

"You always reflect back on the season," Worley said. "'What could I have done here? What could I have done there?' Knowing that we probably weren't as successful as we could've been last year with the team we had."

But after the seesawing ride through his junior campaign, both Worley and head coach Butch Jones are making it a point early on that another up-and-down showing must be avoided.

"(Coach Jones) stresses consistency and performance," Worley said, "and I think that's one thing I need to take from his messages. Not being up-and-down with errant throws and leading the offense and things like that. That's one thing I want to work on.

"All I'm trying to do is get better each and every day, focus on the little things that I can improve on, take it day-by-day and be consistent."

Sound Bites

Along with Ferguson, three other Vols made their media debuts over the weekend. True freshmen are generally unavailable throughout the season, so this weekend's spring practices marked the first time four UT players talked to reporters since arriving in Knoxville.

Ferguson on last year's injury:

"It might just be from over-pressing, like when I'm dropping and pressing off of it to throw, because it's my right leg. I think that's the main thing. It got to a point where it was just really sore. I didn't know what was going on, so I said something to them, they took me to get an MRI and I had a stress fracture in my fibula."

Wide receiver Marquez North broke down some of his offseason routines:

"Really, I just hit the jugs every day. I actually get one hands in everyday too. I hit at least 20 one hands during the offseason."

Defensive end Corey Vereen on the importance of technique on the defensive line:

"I take an immense amount of pride (in it). It's your craft. It's what you're doing. You came here to get a degree and play football, so every day I come in here focused on those things. Technique wise, even though it might not be the day that you feel good, you've got to lock in and do what you need to do."

Cornerback Cameron Sutton on being tabbed as just a three-star recruit coming out of high school.

"I pretty much don't worry about those things — all the numbers and all that. You don't play the game on the Internet. You've got to step between those white lines, and that's what it's all about."

Up Next

This week is rather busy as the Vols practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening. After that, though, UT doesn't practice again until March 27 due to Spring Break.