Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones has yet to officially name a starting quarterback since arriving in Knoxville last December.
But, if experience is any indication, he will likely choose junior Justin Worley.
Worley is the only active quarterback on the Vols’ roster to play a single down before entering the 2013 season and started in three career games during his freshman season.
Worley’s numbers have been lackluster in limited action, totaling 738 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in five appearances.
However, Worley has never had as great of an opportunity to succeed as the upcoming season.
He is finally getting an opportunity to take reps with the first team offense, a privilege he was never given sitting behind Tyler Bray and Matt Simms on the Vols’ depth chart throughout his career.
During his few appearances, Worley was thrown into the fire out of desperation, following injuries and struggles to the aforementioned signal callers.
The former Gatorade national player of the year will likely be the Vols starter entering training camp and should be expected to win the job before the team’s season opener in August. However, Worley will have some stiff competition facing him this season.
Nathan Peterman, Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs all enter the season with much less on-field collegiate experience, but all three possess more of the athletic attributes needed to succeed in Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian‘s up-tempo offense.
Worley doesn’t possess the mobility that the other quarterbacks have and may have been better suited for the Vols’ previous offense. However, his experience should give him the competitive advantage until proven otherwise.
The Vols face another tough SEC schedule and will likely attempt to groom their inexperienced quarterbacks before allowing them to face top-tier defenses. Despite his struggles, Worley has had an opportunity to face some of the toughest defenses in the SEC and may see an improvement in productivity.
Worley will likely shine during practices leading up to the regular season, now that he will be working with the first team offense.
It would be a fool’s bet to pick against the veteran to enter the season as the Vols’ starting quarterback.