Aug 26, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Justin Worley has been named the week one starting quarterback for the Volunteers and he knows the responsibility that comes being a Vol signal caller.
"Just knowing officially that I'm the starter is a sense of relief and it's an honor and privilege to play quarterback here," said the junior quarterback after beating out redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs.
Head coach Butch Jones announced the decision at Monday's press conference but met individually with each of his quarterbacks on Sunday night.
"We just thought Justin was a little bit ahead of the other three individuals," said Jones. "I told them everything is judged by your productivity and so we'll continue to really look at that position and not just that position but every position on our football team."
Worley will take over full time after appearing in five games in 2012 as the team's backup quarterback. He tallied 15 total completions for 134 yards in 2012 while playing behind former Vol, Tyler Bray.
Jones maintained that they would continue to evaluate the quarterback position throughout the season and didn't rule out the possibility of seeing multiple quarterback sets.
Still, he praised Worley for his ability to look forward and steadily progress. "Any great competitor you don't ever look back behind you," said Jones. "You keep looking forward and continue to progress and get better and better. Justin is extremely competitive. We don't want to create a scenario where they're always looking behind them. But that's the world that we live in. That's football. That's competition."
After a productive spring, summer and fall camp, Jones said that Worley's overall body of work, including the game experience he was exposed to the past two seasons, played into his ultimate decision.
Worley will look to spearhead an offense that lost top receivers in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. With so much attrition, the Vols will have to rely on several freshmen and walk-on players to fill the offensive void.
But according to Jones, it is ultimately Worley's role as the "alpha male" that will make the difference.
"He's progressing," said Jones about Worley's presence as a team leader. "He's still a work in progress. He still has some improvement to go just like everyone on our football team is really learning leadership. It's like I told Justin yesterday, it's one thing to lead when things are going great. The mark of a great quarterback is leading your team to victory in the one minute drill on the road. Having that poise and confidence it takes to manage an entire offense."
Regardless of who is under center on Saturday, the offensive line isn't worried about the man behind them.
"It really doesn't matter to us as offensive lineman," said offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James. "Our job is to rush the ball and protect the quarterback so whoever is behind us we're going to block for them."
Worley will helm Jones' inaugural offense for now and with an experienced offensive line in front of him, he feels comfortable taking on Austin Peay.
"I have the upmost faith in the offensive line and our running backs in protection as well as running the football," said Worley. "Knowing that those guys have the game experience that they do, it gives me some confidence going into the game."