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Head Issues Could Cost Two Top SEC Quarterbacks Cash Come Draft Time

2012 was supposed to be the year of the Tylers in the SEC.  Many preseason prognositcators and a few NFL draft analysts suggested before the season that Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray were both likely to be first-round — if not Top 10 — picks in the 2013 NFL draft.  (Wilson is a senior.  Bray is a junior.)

But things haven’t gone to script to date and it’s likely that one or both might be in line for fewer bucks come next spring.

Wilson’s value as a quarterback has actually probably risen through three games.  That’s because in the last one-and-a-half games he hasn’t played and the Razorback offense has completely tanked in his absence.  Clearly, he is the Arkansas offense.

But the trouble spot for Wilson is why he missed action this year — a concussion.  Hey, it’s football.  It happens.  But Wilson also had a concussion last season, too.  And as you’ve probably heard, studies show that persons who’ve had one concussion are more likely to have a second.  Persons having two are more likely to have a third and so on.

With so much attention being paid to concussion symptoms these days, you’d better believe Wilson’s concussion history will be something NFL general managers will consider before selecting him.  Teams might be cautious investing first-round quarterback money — even under the new rookie cap system — on a player who might not have a long tenure in the league.  (Ask Steve Young and Troy Aikman about concussions and how they can cut careers short.)

In addition, while we don’t think Wilson’s postgame comments from the Alabama game show him in too poor a light, some GMs might.  Wilson said that he believed some of his teammates “gave up.”  Some NFL brass will view that as leadership with a capital L.  Other NFL personnel men might worry about what that kind of talk could do to an NFL locker room.  If nothing else, it’s now out there to be dissected.

Sadly, Wilson could already be in the NFL.  Many believe he would have been a Top 10 pick last season had he left Fayetteville early.  But he returned to Arkansas with the goal of leading Bobby Petrino’s team to a title of some sort.  Then Petrino let him down.

If Wilson had known that his coach would go and get himself fired in the offseason, he’d likely have tossed his name into the NFL draft in great haste last spring.  Instead, by coming back, he’ll now have to go through more medical exams and have to answer questions about the “at times, gave up” comment.  You can book that.  Both will happen.  And it could — could — cost him a little cash.

As for the other Tyler, there’s no medical issue or bizarre set of circumstances to blame for the drop in stock of Tennessee’s Bray.  Oh, sure, like Wilson he’s basically charged with carrying his team each week.  If Bray plays poorly, his Vols lose.  The run game and defense can’t pick up the slack for him at this point.

But UT’s quarterback tends to play poorly against good teams.  Good teams have good defenses and that tends to make life rougher on those signal-callers who play for one-dimensional teams, to be sure.  But Bray was simply outplayed by Florida’s Jeff Driskel this past Saturday.  When frustrated, Bray displayed the same throw-it-off-the-back-foot tendencies he showed so many times in previous seasons.  NFL scouts will notice that.

All that said, Bray’s arm is still good enough to overcome any issues the GMs might have with his footwork.  It’s his brain that’s the issue.

This offseason Bray got into trouble for breaking a car windshield with beer bottles and golf balls and for “hotdogging” it on a Jet Ski.  Whether you think those issues are important is irrelevant.  Bray will be questioned about both issues — as well as many other rumors — if he chooses to leave Tennessee for the NFL after the season.  We’re talking about a league where one NFL rep reportedly asked a player if his mother was a prostitute simply to gauge his reaction.  Yes, windshields and personal watercraft will come up.

So will the fact that Bray decided he didn’t need to even watch the final 20 minutes of tape from Florida’s most recent win over the Vols.  “That wasn’t our team,” the signal-caller said.  Ah, well, it’s a good thing it was someone else out there dressed in that orange #8 jersey because most people who watched that game probably left thinking that that quarterback made some mistakes that he could learn from.  Apparently not.

(And we’ll save the “Are there any coaches at Tennessee who demand that their players watch film and learn from their mistakes” question for another time.)

Derek Dooley — hey, the Volunteers do have a coach — said this week:


“There’s got to be a level of acknowledgement that you’re a little affected by events that are out of your control.  I think it’s fair to say that happened when we were down 14 because it happened so quickly.  That’s a big step Tyler needs to take.  I think the unfair thing is to say he doesn’t care, and it’s not fair to say he shut it down.”


Unless you’re referring to Bray’s DVD player when watching film of a bad loss.  That he does shut down.  Which makes it highly unlikely that UT’s quarterback is ready to acknowledge that he can be affected when a certain something hits the fan.

Not to rub salt in Vol fans’ wounds, but after Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley was critiqued by head coach Lane Kiffin for his “really poor decisions” against Stanford, Barkley responded: “Yeah, I made some poor decisions.  But that’s why you watch the film and learn from it.” 

It seems the Pac-12′s best pro prospect gets it.

Meanwhile, both of the SEC’s big-armed Tylers could see their draft stock dip a bit lower than initially expected when April rolls ’round.  Wilson because he’s now had a couple of head injuries.  Bray because his head doesn’t seem to be screwed on straight.

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UT QB Bray Heading To Court For “Hot Dogging” On Jet Ski

About two weeks ago, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was involved in an incident in which he and his roommate were caught tossing beer bottles and golf balls onto a car, doing damage to the vehicle.  Bray and his roommate were spotted by another person living in their apartment complex.  That person had her own windshield busted out the next day — quite a coincidence — but no one saw who was involved in that act of vandalism.

Bray told the first vandalism victim — the one who had his name — that he would make restitution for damage.  For that reason, no charges were pressed.  Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said at the time that he took the matter “seriously,” but then joked at a speaking engagement about his quarterback’s accuracy, saying he missed a trash can.

Dooley’s ha-ha reaction can be viewed through a brand new lens today as The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that Bray is slated to appear in a General Sessions Court setting because on July 4th, he and a woman passenger were “hot dogging” on a Jet Ski on Tellico Lake, not far from Knoxville.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer Dewayne Williams said that the “hot dogging” was “almost like playing chicken” with another Jet Ski.  That other Jet Ski tipped over and its occupants went into the water… at which point Bray then zipped by “spraying them with water.”  The officer said, “he was almost on top of them.”  Williams added: “This all happened directly in front of me.  That’s what I couldn’t believe.”

The charges against Bray include a Class A misdemeanor for reckless operation of a personal watercraft and a Class C misdemeanor for failure to have a boating education certificate.

We’ll pause here for Vol die-hards to say, “Aw, this isn’t any bigger deal than the busted windshield.”



And now we’ll get on to our points:


1.  Bray has been projected by many as being a potential first-round NFL draft pick.  But Bray continues to make dumb decisions on and off the field.  From a throat slash gesture during his freshman year that was later used in a “here’s what we call taunting” NCAA explainer video to the car incident to the Jet Ski incident to a WNML-AM/FM report (a Knoxville radio station) that Bray recently started a scuffle in Tennessee’s just-off-campus bar district, Bray is in danger of losing millions of dollars.  Perhaps he should call Ryan Mallett and ask him if “reputation” can influence the decisions of NFL general managers.

2.  The fact that the July 4th issue happened before Dooley blew off the vandalism issue tells us either a) he didn’t know about the Jet Ski incident or b) he doesn’t give a big hoot what his star athletes do in their spare time.  In fact, after the July 4th charges, Dooley told the throng at SEC Media Days that his quarterback had matured and made “lifestyle changes.”  Then the next week that same quarterback admitted to vandalizing a car.  Dooley handed out no suspension, just a quip.

3.  Looking the other way for stars seems to be a habit for Dooley.  One that — according to sources inside the UT football program — wasn’t appreciated by some of the head coach’s ex-assistants.  As noted, Bray has had maturity issues in the past.  Ditto star receiver Da’Rick Rogers who’s been arrested, yelled at a coach, tweeted about transferring, and skipped out on some workouts since arriving in Knoxville.  Star safety Janzen Jackson got umpteen chances from Dooley before he finally failed one too many drug tests and the school — not the coach — gave him the boot.  If there’s a truth in college athletics it’s this: The better the player, the more chances he’ll get.  Dooley is fast becoming the poster child for that statement.

4.  And that’s bad news for the coach as he enters a make-or-break season.  Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter would be considered the best player on the Volunteer team were he not coming off a serious knee injury.  As it stands, UT’s two best, proven, healthy players are Bray and Rogers who are more often a Distracting Duo than a Dynamic Duo.  With his job on the line, Dooley probably feels he can’t afford to sit either of his two top players.  But by continuing to allow them to make poor decisions and bring bad publicity to his team with no outward sign of any consequences, he’s only inviting them to continue to test him (and apparently the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, too).

5.  Oh, Bray didn’t get arrested for holding up someone outside a convenience store — as a few Lane Kiffin recruits once did.  He was “hot dogging” on a Jet Ski and tossing a few beer bottles at a car.  Boys will be boys.  But based on the decisions that this boy makes, it’s looking more and more like he might cost Dooley his job rather than save it.  Would you trust him to get through a full football season without another incident popping up?

People had a lot of laughs at Steve Spurrier when he suspended Stephen Garcia five times (with many of those coming after “boys will be boys” type events).  Well, at least Spurrier did suspend him.

Update: Bray reaches agreement in court - avoids a guilty plea.

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