News breaking this evening, from both Wes Rucker and Rob Lewis, that Tennessee quarterback Nick Stephens will leave the program. Rucker quoted Dooley as saying the split was amicable and that Dooley wanted Stephens to stay through the rest of the spring, but the only quarterback on campus with any game experience is no longer with the team.
Stephens had his reps decreased after the first two weeks of spring practice, in which he'd been working with the first team. He struggled in the first scrimmage of spring, though not incredibly more so than Matt Simms, and Tyler Bray didn't see much action with or against the ones. But in the last week it's been Simms and Bray who have taken first and second team rotations, leaving Stephens out of the mix.
This hurts Tennessee in terms of depth and experience, as the Vols will now have only Simms and Bray in their quarterback competition, before Nash Nance joins it this fall. And for Stephens, this ends what I'm sure was a frustrating relationship with Tennessee - #17 played in seven games in 2008 under Phillip Fulmer, had an injury that prevented him from competing with Jonathan Crompton for the starting job under Lane Kiffin last spring, and now apparently wasn't going to be the choice of Derek Dooley and Jim Chaney to start in 2010. An unfortunate situation all around.
If there's any light at the end of this particular tunnel, it's that both Simms and Bray will get more work with the ones, and we might get a clearer picture of who the starter will be coming out of spring. But on the whole, this is another blow for the Vols this spring, as Stephens joins Bryce Brown and Aaron Douglas - three guys who were expected to be key players for the Vol offense - on their way out of town.
More news as it comes in...