Aug. 24, 2009
Kiffin said the competition between Crompton and junior Nick Stephens was decided by the slimmest of margins.
"It really came down to Jonathan was a little bit more accurate. Both guys made a number of plays during camp, both protected the ball very well with very low interception numbers, (and) very good numbers in general in all preseason games combined.
"Jonathan had a slight edge for accuracy."
Kiffin added that his comfort-level is strong with either signal-caller, and praised Stephens for stepping up his game since the wrist injury he suffered during winter workouts.
"It's weird to say it but if you listed the five most improved players from spring, Nick would be one of them even though he didn't win the starting job. If something were to happen to Jonathan, I feel very confident that Nick would come in and do a great job for us.
"I think we've got two really good quarterbacks."
The Vols practiced for nearly three hours Monday after taking the previous day off.
"It was another long practice," Kiffin said. "It was good to have them back out here, although I thought we took a little bit of time to get going.
"We really tried to put a lot of conditioning into practice with long drives as the last thing of practice, so it's pretty much like the fourth quarter. We continue to have a lot of work to do."
Injuries were a topic of interest following practice, and Kiffin addressed those concerns.
"Bryce (Brown) pushed through and did almost everything today, so that was really good. Josh McNeil, his knee has been bothering him so we sent him to get his knee checked. Gerald (Jones), we're still evaluating (high ankle sprain). We've heard anything from three weeks to six weeks."
McNeil's questionable status comes at a tough time in his battle for a starting spot at center, with fellow senior Cody Sullins competing stride for stride. Kiffin says the final decision has not been made.
"We'll see how Josh comes back from his injury and then make a decision. Hopefully, we'll have good news and (Josh) will be able to play for us. His knee, maybe eight or nine days ago, he came down weird on it and then kept playing through it. It's been bugging him some more and really was an issue for him Saturday.
Jones' injury has really thinned the receiving ranks heading into the Sept. 5 opener against Western Kentucky (Vol Network, SEC Network).
"Today, I think we had five scholarship receivers healthy and three of them were true freshmen," Kiffin said. "So we're going to need guys to step up."
The Vols temporarily solved their personnel shortage at wide receiver by moving redshirt freshman Rod Wilks over from the defensive secondary. Wilks played both positions while leading Smyrna to consecutive state championships in Tennessee's largest high school classification.
"There's no free agency to go to or trades, so we made a deal with the defense and went to Rod Wilks," Kiffin said. "We made a deal with the defense and brought him over. That's hard to do, bringing a guy over this late. But it does give us another body over there and someone who's played receiver in the past. We'll see what he can do."
The Vols practice again Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon at Haslam Field.