Riley Ferguson talked with the media for the first time Friday as a Tennessee quarterback. After the opening day of spring practice, coach Butch Jones sent all four quarterback candidates — Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs, Nathan Peterman and Ferguson — to face the question-askers.
The obvious question for Ferguson was when and how did he suffer the stress fracture in his right leg that denied him a golden opportunity to play in 2013 and ultimately forced a redshirt. To rewind the timeline, Peterman was lost to a hand injury at Florida on Sept. 21 and Worley to a thumb injury at Alabama on Oct. 26. The tea leaves seemed to indicate that by late October Ferguson was ahead of Dobbs and would have succeeded Worley.
So when did the injury arise? “The week of the Alabama game, maybe the week before that,” Ferguson said.
How did it happen? “We do not know, really,” Ferguson said. “It might be from over-pressing when I’m dropping to throw. It got to the point where it was really sore. They took me to get an MRI and I had a stress fracture.”
So, given that Dobbs took over for Worley in the second half at Alabama and started the final four games, wasn’t that terrible timing for you? “I was thinking that at first,” Ferguson said. “But my family and everybody here, they were telling me things happen for a reason. Just move forward and try to get better.”
And so he did. “That was last year,” Ferguson said. “I’m focused on this year. I don’t really worry about if I’d have went in or wouldn’t have, or if was hurt or wasn’t hurt.”
Ferguson can’t wait to get in a game and put Jones’ offense to work. He embraces the tempo: “I love to line up and see a corner have to run all the way across the field just to match up with my receiver. And I can hike the ball before he’s over there and get it there quick.”
Jones liked what he saw from all four quarterbacks Friday, or so he said. As for Ferguson, “I liked his quarterback intangibles. He was extremely accurate with the football. He looked very confident and he made some big-time throws today.”