Although it may seem like the Volunteers’ passer is jumping the gun a bit, this move makes sense for Bray on several different levels.
Despite Bray’s outstanding numbers throughout 2012, the Volunteers struggled to consistently pick up wins. In response, Tennessee hired itself a new head coach in Butch Jones. There’s no question that Jones can bring about an era of victory to Knoxville, but it is well documented that the coach prefers a run-heavy offense that typically features a dual-threat quarterback. In case you’re unaware, Bray isn’t much of a runner. He’s a strong-armed pocket passer, which likely left him with little choice but to declare.
Another factor that likely led to Bray’s decision to declare was the fact that his two top receivers, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, are also headed for the NFL. The duo hauled in 119 passes for 1,861 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Especially with the offense turning its focus to the ground game, Bray likely felt that he would have little to work with as a passer heading into 2013.
The final piece to the puzzle is the weak quarterback class that the 2013 NFL Draft has to offer. With the likes of Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson leading the pack, Bray could hear his name called as early as the end of the first round. The Volunteer gunslinger has been dubbed by many as a second-round talent, but could elevate himself into the first if he can shine during pre-draft workouts.
Considering that Bray amassed 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns this season for the Volunteers, it’s safe to assume that he’s done as much for his draft stock as possible at this point. What better time to cash in on his hard work and take a stab at making a name for himself in the NFL.