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UT’s Bray Says He’s Wised Up Since Last Season

Tennessee junior quarterback Tyler Bray has the tools to someday be a first-round NFL draft pick.  But through two years with the Vols, he’s also sometimes displayed an attitude that could leave him toiling in an arena league at some point.

From an obnoxious throat slash gesture as a freshman to reports of attitude problems on and off the field as a sophomore, Bray has become a hot button topic on Vol messageboards.

From what he said yesterday in Knoxville, however, it sounds like someone’s convinced him it’s time to grow up:

“Last year, I wasn’t the smartest guy.  Kind of dumb.  This year I’m trying to get my act together and trying to get this team where it needs to be…

I’ve tried to be a leader as much as possible.  I’ve kind of struggled at it, but I’m working on it.”

Bray was one of a number of Vols rumored to have had little interest in reaching bowl eligibility status in UT’s finale against Kentucky last year — a game UT lost, snapping the nation’s longest winning streak of one team whooping another.  It’s been reported that Bray and others didn’t care about playing in a “lesser” bowl game.

Even after the UK loss, when asked if missing a bowl game would eat at him over the offseason, Bray suggested that he was actually looking forward to the time off.  So while he’s approached and even eclipsed some of Peyton Manning’s passing numbers, he’s not shown anything approaching the same kind of attitude or work ethic.

Mannings and Bradys and Brees and Rodgers don’t grow on trees.  There are plenty of talented guys who can’t get out of their own way: Ryan Leaf, Todd Marinovich, and even Stephen Garcia.  Cautionary tales all.

For now, Bray is in the Ryan Mallett category.  He has the physical tools and ability to be a star, but does he have the mental make-up to overcome a daffy off-field reputation?  The jury is out with Mallett in the NFL.  And it’s very much out on Bray at Tennessee.

But as far as UT fans are concerned, at least he seems to be saying some of the right things this spring.

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