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Worley Still The Favorite In Vols' QB Battle

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Justin Worley's three years at UT give him an edge in the competition to replace recently-drafted quarterback Tyler Bray. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.
Justin Worley's three years at UT give him an edge in the competition to replace recently-drafted quarterback Tyler Bray. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

When Tyler Bray decided to enter into the NFL draft, he left a gaping hole in the Tennessee offense. New coach Butch Jones undoubtedly wanted Bray to stay, but has responded by declaring an open competition at quarterback that will continue into the summer. The two men on campus most likely to win the job are Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman.

Worley is a junior from South Carolina. He hasn’t seen much playing time behind Bray, and when Worley came out of high school, he was only a three-star recruit. He is comfortable in the shotgun and is experienced in the pro-style offense, which makes him a good fit for Jones’ system. He lacks arm strength and athleticism, but coaches highlight his poise. Worley went 8-18 in the spring game. The numbers are worse than they look because Worley spent most of the practice throwing underneath passes.

Peterman, a redshirt freshman, was a four-star, pro-style quarterback coming out of high school. He has slightly better arm strength than Worley, and seems to be more athletic. However, Peterman was consistently flushed out of the pocket during the spring game and only completed 39 percent of his passes. He appeared unsettled in the pocket and gave up six sacks. He will push Worley, but currently trails him in the competition for the starting job.

Jones would not rule out the possibility of a true freshman coming into camp and stealing the top line on the depth chart. The dark-horse candidates are Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs. Both quarterbacks were part of the prestigious Elite 11 camp, and both were winners in high school. Ferguson won two state championships in North Carolina. With their late entry into the competition, it will be hard for them to crack into the starting lineup.

While his play has been far less than stellar, as of right now, Justin Worley is the favorite to be the Tennessee Volunteers’ starting quarterback this fall. However, Coach Jones is keeping the competition open. There is still plenty of time for Peterman to make a push, with Ferguson and Dobbs in the competition as well.

Worley benefits from three years at Tennessee, and it's hard to project one of the younger quarterbacks uprooting him from the starting position.