QB Nick Stephens to transfer from Tennessee
Quarterback Nick Stephens plans to leave Tennessee and find a
school where he’s assured of starting in his final year of
eligibility, coach Derek Dooley said Thursday.
The redshirt senior was concerned that the competition for the
starting spot with junior college transfer Matt Simms and incoming
freshman Tyler Bray could end up costing him a chance to play.
“Nick’s in his fifth year and of course has been trying to get
on the field his whole career,” Dooley said. “(He) just felt like
it was too risky to go through another season because he just wants
to play. We hate to lose Nick, but I certainly understand.”
Stephens hasn’t determined where he will play but will go to
either a Football Championship Subdivision school or one in a lower
division so that he won’t lose his final year of eligibility.
The 6-foot-4, 231-pound Flower Mound, Texas, native started six
games in 2008 as he and Jonathan Crompton failed to take control of
the Vols’ struggling offense in coach Phillip Fulmer’s final
season. Stephens backed up Crompton in 2009 in coach Lane Kiffin’s
He struggled last week in the Vols’ first spring scrimmage,
finishing 3-of-9 for 6 yards.
Stephens the third Tennessee player to leave since Dooley was
hired in January to replace Kiffin, who left for Southern
California. Running back Bryce Brown and offensive lineman Aaron
Douglas have also let the program.
“I expected attrition certainly. Over the last three years
there’s been an inordinate amount of attrition, and to say it
hasn’t hurt the program is not being forthright,” Dooley said.
“What I hope is that we get our arms around it at some point and
then we get a little stability, and I expect that to happen.”
The Vols also have sophomore Nick Lamaison to bolster depth at
quarterback this spring with freshman quarterback Nash Nance
joining the squad in the fall as well.
Stephens’ departure paves the way for junior college transfer
Matt Simms, son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms,
to take control of the Vols’ offense.
Simms will continue to compete with Bray for the starting job
but appears to be somewhat ahead of the freshman because of his
experience as a redshirt freshman at Louisville and at El Camino
Community College in California.
He’s also won the respect of his teammates because of his
“I like his whole swagger, his whole demeanor,” senior wide
receiver Gerald Jones said. “He’s confident in himself, and he’s
confident in the players around him. He has a very strong arm, and
I think his weakness right now is just getting used to the offense