KNOXVILLE — Nathan Peterman used a checklist to manage his second summer as a Tennessee quarterback.
The redshirt freshman believes he crossed off every item he felt he needed to address, and as the Volunteers open practice today, Peterman hopes his summer investments pay off as he continues competing to become Tennessee’s starter.
“That’s something I hit on with the coaches, is going into the summer from the spring, that these are the points that we need to get better at,” the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Floridian said Thursday as the Vols reported for training camp. “I tried to rep them as much as I could and get better.
“I just tried to focus on accuracy. I reviewed all the film from the spring a lot and just tried to make improvements based on the reads and the post-snap recognition of the defense. Hopefully that’ll show here in camp.”
Between the perception that Justin Worley has a leg up in the Vols’ competition and the interest in how freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs perform in their debuts, Peterman is sort of the lost man in Tennessee’s quarterback room.
The former four-star recruit showed some glimpses with his arm and his running ability in the spring, but there also were moments when he showed he’s essentially a first-year player who’s never played a snap of college football.
To make up for it, Peterman continued to make trips to the film room part of his daily routine.
“I think that every quarterback needs to do that, so I try to be in there as much as I can, balancing class and football workouts and all that,” he said. “As much as I could, I was trying to be in there. We’d throw after [workouts], then I’ll go up, maybe by myself, maybe with a couple of receivers, and watch film a little bit and try to focus on those details of last spring and try to get better from those.
“I think we’ve put in a lot of work this summer.”
Both Peterman and Worley were elected to the Vols’ player staff by their teammates, and both continued to have roles in organizing offseason throwing sessions with their new group of targets at receiver and tight end.
With so much up for grabs at those positions after Tennessee lost nearly all of its production from last season’s prolific offense, those sessions have been more crowded than they’ve been in previous summers.
“It’s been good seing the turnout from guys,” Worley said Wednesday. “With our workout schedule, it’s been easy for guys to show up and be there, and we’ve had better attendance than we’ve had in the past. I think a lot of it is the schedule we’ve had.
“We’ve been very organized this summer. We don’t have any starters that are announced starters for wide receivers, so everybody’s vying for position and everybody’s looking to get better. I think everybody’s hungry right now.”
Aiming for better accuracy, Peterman, who completed only nine of 23 passes for 98 yards in the Vols’ spring game, tightened his throwing motion with some tips from offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
Peterman hopes the tweaks and offseason work have him better prepared for camp competition.
“You’ve got to approach every day like you’re going to give your best, with a hard work ethic that you’re going to be the best in the country, not just on the team,” he said. “I think it’s always important to stay even-keeled, never get too high and never get too low. You can’t put all that pressure on yourself, but you know it’s there at the same time.
“I think it’s great the coaches are grading [everything]. You’ve got to grade on the details and what’s going to set a team up for success. Ultimately I think that’s what all of us want.”
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