The photo subject is Brent Schaeffer, who was the Vols’ starting quarterback for the first three games of 2004. After losing the first-team job to Erik Ainge, Schaeffer left UT, spent a year at junior college and is now back in the Southeastern Conference with the Ole Miss Rebels.
Schaeffer is the focus of Matt Hayes’ College Football Insider column. The piece, entitled “Rebel without a backup plan,” concerns the gamble Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron took by anointing Schaeffer his No. 1 QB before the ex-Vol had taken a practice snap in Oxford … even before he had completed his junior college requirements.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from Hayes’ article:
“You see, He is The Season. He is Brent Schaeffer, the ubertalented quarterback Orgeron has bet the season on. In February, Schaeffer capped Orgeron’s remarkable recruiting class by signing with the Rebels after a year in junior college purgatory. On that day, Orgeron named the former Tennessee starter his No. 1 quarterback, and since then, he has physically and mentally built his team around the decision.”
Hayes’ article is a tad outdated, since Schaeffer graduated from College of the Sequoias between the time the story went to press and the time it arrived on magazine stands. But the point is still valid: Orgeron is putting the entire 2006 season on the shoulders of a guy who hasn’t started a major college game since September 20, 2004.
Is Schaeffer THAT good? Can he elevate Ole Miss from lousy to lethal all by himself? Hayes seems to think so. He writes:
“With two years of eligibility remaining, many coaches believed he (Schaeffer) was the nation’s No. 1 recruit – high school or junior college – in February. It was easy to hang the season on him.”
Schaeffer is an enormously gifted athlete with tremendous playmaking potential. Still, building your hopes around a relatively unproven quarterback can be risky.
Tennessee discovered as much last fall.