The Xray Is In: Ainge Has Broken Pinky Finger, But Coach Fulmer Says...

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

(WVLT) - Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer told reporters late Wednesday starting senior quarterback Erik Ainge had an x-ray performed on his throwing hand pinky finger, and the results did show a break.

Coach Fulmer said Ainge has thrown some and it looks like he can throw OK.

Coach Fulmer added he estimates it will take three to four weeks for Ainge to be 100 percent.

Ainge jammed the finger during practice Monday when he was taking a snap. Fulmer first informed the media of the injury during the team's media day Tuesday.

Coach Fulmer said Ainge is expected to play and throw against Cal Saturday, and he did not anticipate the injury being a problem.

Ainge participated in drills during practice Tuesday, but did not throw any passes during the first 40 minutes, the time when media members are allowed to watch practice.

Be sure to watch WVLT Sports Overtime tonight at 5:30 and 7pm for updated information.

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FULMER EXPECTS AINGE TO PLAY; CROMPTON 'WILL HAVE TO BE READY':

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday he expects his senior quarterback to play in Saturday’s opener at California, despite the latest news that Erik Ainge has a broken little finger on his throwing hand.

“He is going to play,” Fulmer said of Ainge. “He has thrown and it looks like he’s going to be able to throw just fine. I appreciate him showing the toughness to get himself back out there.”

Fulmer faced a similar situation last year when Ainge was injured late in an Oct. 28 win at South Carolina. Ainge started the next week against LSU, but Jonathan Crompton played most of the way in Tennessee’s last-season loss to the Tigers.

“If it doesn’t work out great, then obviously Jonathan will have to be ready,” Fulmer said. “I have the utmost confidence in Jonathan getting the job done. We have said all along we’re going out there to win this football game as a team, and that’s exactly what we’re going to try to do.”

Crompton, a junior, has one career start in seven appearances. He has completed 47-percent of his career passes (31-of-66) for 401 yards. The Waynesville, N.C., product passed for 183 yards last year in the LSU game, then followed that with a 174-yard effort in his start at Arkansas. Crompton had two TDs and one interception in each of those games.

“Jon has done fine,” Fulmer said. “He played pretty well in the LSU game, probably not as well as he would have liked to at Arkansas, although he finished the game strong. We’re fortunate to have a backup with some experience and his ability.

“It’s very valuable that he has played and has experience. Did he have a little more pep in his step today because he (might get the start) -- yes, that’s human nature.”

Fulmer said Ainge suffered his injury taking a snap during Monday’s practice. He also stated the news hasn’t deterred the team’s efforts this week.

“Our preparation has been as good as it could possibly be,” Fulmer said. “I’m really encouraged about where we are with the first group. We’ve still got a ton of work to do with a group of young guys who we would very much like to get in the ballgame. There are a number of guys who could really help our football team if we just don’t make those mistakes.

“I continue to be impressed with this group of freshmen. They come from some outstanding programs, they know how to work and they fit in nicely. I expect a good group of them to contribute.”

VOLS MAYO AMONG 2007 BUTKUS AWARD® WATCH LIST CANDIDATES:

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc., has announced the preliminary list of 66 candidates for this year's Butkus Award®, and Tennessee junior Jerod Mayo is among those in the running. The Butkus Award goes annually to the nation's best collegiate linebacker.

Mayo enters Saturday’s season opener at California as a preseason All-SEC choice after earning second-team All-America honors from Rivals.com in 2006. He was among the league leaders in tackles before late-season injuries forced him to settle at 83 total stops, good enough for 11th in the SEC.

The Butkus Award® Watch List will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 18. That list will be cut to three finalists and be announced Nov. 9. The winner will be announced in December in Orlando, Fla.

The independent Butkus Award® Selection Committee for 2007, comprised of some of the nation's foremost journalists, is solely and exclusively responsible for all voting in the Butkus Award® selection process. Additional Watch List candidates may be added in the coming weeks due to outstanding in-season play. Voting for the three finalists and the Butkus Award® winner will be conducted by exclusive confidential ballots of the Selection Committee.

2007 BUTKUS AWARD WATCH LIST: Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech; Russell Allen, San Diego State; Beau Bell, UNLV; Rashad Bobino, Texas; Alvin Bowen, Iowa State; Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina; Ezra Butler, Nevada; Ian Campbell, Kansas State; Reggie Carrington, Southern Methodist; Reggie Carter, UCLA; Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin; Matt Castello, San Jose State; Chris Chamberlain, Tulsa; Nelson Coleman, Tulsa; Chris Collins, Oklahoma State; Dan Connor, Penn State; Quentin Cotton, East Carolina; Shawn Crable, Michigan; Maurice Crum, Notre Dame; Brian Cushing, Southern California; Jordon Dizon, Colorado; Ward Dobbs, Wyoming; Derrick Doggett, Oregon State; Jolonn Dunbar, Boston College; Zach Follett, California; Drew Fowler, Air Force; Marcus Freeman, Ohio State; Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt; Prince Hall, Alabama; Vince Hall, Virginia Tech; Geno Hayes, Florida State; Erin Henderson, Maryland; Ryan Henegan, Connecticut; Ali Highsmith, LSU; Maurice Holman, North Texas; Joey Hudson, Miami (Ohio); Malik Jackson, Louisville; Joe Jiannoni, Utah; Jeremy Jones, UTEP; Franz Joseph, Florida Atlantic; Red Keith, Central Michigan; Mike Klinkenberg, Iowa; Danny Lansanah, Connecticut; Spencer Larsen, Arizona; James Laurinaitis, Ohio State; Patrick Lavine, Oklahoma State; J Leman, Illinois; Adam Leonard, Hawaii; Rey Maualuga, Southern California; JEROD MAYO, TENNESSEE; Tim McCarthy, Northern Illinois; Koby McKinnon, Arkansas State; Ben Moffitt, South Florida; Joe Pawelek, Baylor; Jason Phillips, Colorado; Brian Raines, Rice; Brandon Renkart, Rutgers; Mike Rivera, Kansas; Keith Rivers, Southern California; Bo Ruud, Nebraska; Michael Tauiliili, Duke; Christian Taylor, UCLA; David Vobora, Idaho; Phillip Wheeler, Georgia Tech; Reed Williams, West Virginia; Wesley Woodyard, Kentucky.

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information


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