Apr 20, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers football team holds up their helmets while the band plays Rocky Top after the spring Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Vols, Don't Forget About Riley Ferguson

There’s a lot of talk on Rocky Top right now about who will be starting at quarterback for the Vols this fall.

Much of the talk has centered around three individuals; returning junior Justin Worley, redshirt freshmen Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Josh Dobbs. In fact last month we ran a poll asking who you thought should start for the Vols next season. 38% of you voted for Dobbs, while 34% voted for Worley and 22% for Peterman.

It’s understandable why these three have stuck out so much.

Justin Worley is the only quarterback on the roster that has NCAA game experience.

Nathan Peterman was previously recruited by Butch Jones at Cincinnati  Many folks assume that because of this he would fit easiest into Jones’ scheme. 

Josh Dobbs was a highly sought after four-star quarterback that flipped his commitment to Tennessee on National Signing Day, immediately exciting the fan base on a day when they had been let down by Vonn Bell’s commitment to Ohio State. Dobbs had previously committed to Arizona State.

The one guy that you shouldn’t sleep on is incoming freshmen Riley Ferguson.

Ferguson has done nothing but win during his football career so far. He was a starter on two state championship teams at Butler High School in Matthews, NC.

Jones may not have previously recruited Ferguson but that doesn’t mean he won’t fit into what Jones is trying to do offensively.

It’s a very common misconception that Butch Jones requires a “dual threat” quarterback. None of the quarterback’s on Tennessee’s roster are considered true dual threat guys. Dobbs, Ferguson and Peterman are more mobile then Worley, but none are going to break any quarterback rushing records.

Aside from the fit, Ferguson was highly rated coming out of high school for a reason — the kid can play. In 2011 he threw for 3,345 yards and 48 touchdowns, while throwing only 8 interceptions.

Recruiting services differed on Ferguson’s rating, he was rated a three-star by some and a four-star by others. Regardless he was rated high enough to have scholarship offers from schools like Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. That may be the most impressive list of offers for any quarterback on the Vols roster.

Speaking of Alabama, and who isn’t these days, they might just provide Ferguson with that chip on his shoulder that drives athletes to greatness. The Crimson Tide apparently weren’t very upfront with Ferguson during the recruiting process, stringing him along at times, something Ferguson hasn’t forgot.

I’m just ready to get back at them, that’s just the bottom line. I’m ready to play Alabama and hopefully show them the mistake that they made in not getting me.

Ferguson said after Derek Dooley was fired as head coach at Tennessee that Alabama started recruiting him hard again. The Vol commit let the Crimson Tide know quickly he was happy with his commitment.

I told them, ‘I don’t understand what’s different now than earlier in the year and they were like, ‘Throughout the season we realized how good of a player you are. We like your film’ and all this stuff. They just had a whole bunch of reasons but I was like, ‘I’m committed to Tennessee. It doesn’t really matter.

Ferguson, who stands 6’3″ and weighs around 190, has a great throwing arm, good pocket awareness and enough mobility to create opportunities for himself when a play breaks down. He of course still has some areas in which he needs to improve, but what true freshmen doesn’t?

Considering that neither Nathan Peterman or Justin Worley really took a hold of the job during spring practice, Ferguson should have every opportunity to prove he’s worthy of being the starter this fall. Something that Butch Jones hinted at after the Orange and White game in April.

It [quarterback battle] is wide open. Just like every position, it will be open. The growth that a football team can make from May to the end of July can be monumental, if they buy in and work exceptionally hard. Plus, we have our freshmen reporting in June

I’m not saying Riley Ferguson will win the quarterback job, in fact I have no clue who will at this point, but he definitely deserves to be in the conversation with the other guys.

Hopefully fans will be excited about what Ferguson could possibly bring to the table with the Vols this upcoming season.


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